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My Love / Hate Relationship With Anti-Virus Software

Personal posts regarding my releases and research on various topics.
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My Love / Hate Relationship With Anti-Virus Software

Post by atom0s » Sat Sep 19, 2015 9:14 pm

Anti-virus software comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, names, and more. The possibilities of what you can install to help secure your system are endless these days, and somehow, they still seem to be getting worse and worse by the day.

I personally do not use any anti-virus software on my system due to the lack of need for one, as well as the fact that I enjoy my system not being bottle-necked by a resource hog. That is not to say that I don't think anti-virus software servers a purpose. For a typical computer user, an average Joe, it makes perfect sense to install something to help protect the system. A casual user will not always keep their system up to date, keep critical software like Java, Flash, and other web-exposed things updated, and so on. A casual user is also more prone to open those ever-so-enticing emails claiming they are going to inherit 15 billion USD, or that they just won a new car.

For me, I do not do any of this. My main system that hits the web has precautions setup to avoid these problems.
- I do not open any email on the system and if I do things are not opened automatically, images are disabled, and more.
- Javascript is disabled and only whitelisted on sites I trust.
- Java is not installed.
- Flash is not installed.
- I do not download anything I do not know or trust.
- And more..

My Love For Anti-Virus Software

As a developer I know what can be done to someones system in as little as 1 line of code. The ability to brick someones machine is so easily done these days that it can lead to immediate fear of what is running on your system. With that, I do encourage someone that is not tech savvy to install an anti-virus. This will protect them from some of the basic threats, up to major ones like rootkits and the new skid tactic, cryptoware.

A normal system user that just uses their computer to check email, browse facebook, porn, etc. has little to no knowledge of how things can infect their system. Something simple as an outdated version of Flash or Java, down to outdated browser software, or mis-configured / disabled firewalls. This helps keep them protected.

But it comes with a cost...

My Hate For Anti-Virus Software

I loathe anti-virus software because of how much it has become bloat-ware. A simple scanner and real-time protector now has all kinds of useless bells and whistles that a normal user will never need. Coupled with the fact that instead of using perhaps 1-2 processes or services, scanners today are now taking up 20+ processes, multiple services and just eat away at a systems resources.

Real-time protections have become such a bottleneck that in some cases, some "high-grade" anti-virus software can turn a very current date machine into a crippled 1990s Gateway. It is sad to see how much the industry has changed with the quality of their products, the direct point and purpose of their products, as well as the cost to go along with it.

My two biggest offenders on this list are Norton and Avast. Norton on my partners machines has nearly 16 processes running at all times, each taking up a large chunk of RAM just to sit idle. The real-time protection makes it nearly impossible to game at all on the machine as it deems it necessary to actively monitor files in use by other processes crippling the performance of the machine. And Avast is closing in on Nortons resource hogging and process count.

In the last few weeks, some of my applications of my own as well as group projects have started to become flagged as malware / trojans. These detections are false-positives due to some code being used for both usage of the tools as well as protection from rippers. Some code internally is causing the flagged results, as well as the packers/protectors being used on some things.

A huge issue for me is that in the early days of anti-virus software, it was easy to mark something safe and allow it to run. However today, both Norton and Avast hide these abilities away in multiple menus, vaguely named and not seen as a major feature.

It is a shame that as a developer, we are stuck trouble-shooting problems that should not exist in the first place. We are stuck learning how to navigate software we do not use / have installed ourselves just to assist our users and community when issues like this arise. I have had to use TeamViewer multiple times this past week just to assist people in whitelisting some of my tools because they are unsure how to even find those options.

Not to mention they offer NO WAY to allow the program to run even if its detected. Instead, it is just instantly deleted and nothing more is done. How is that at all helpful?
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