Anti-Spyware Software Wars: Can't They All Just Get Along?

from the uh,-no dept

We've joked in the past about just how many security products you need on a standard Windows PC these days, and it seems like all those products are really starting to dislike each other. Last year, we noted how some of the products could cause conflicts that would cause computers to lock up -- but there's another (less troublesome) trend that's happening as well: security products declaring competing products as malware and removing them. Just a little over a week ago, the latest version of Microsoft's anti-spyware offering declared Symantec's anti-virus offering as malware. However, it looks like Kaspersky Labs has Symantec's back on this one. Its latest anti-spyware offering flagged some Microsoft anti-virus software as being malware. Of course, this was bound to happen, since many security products often have to do things that look quite like malware. This is only likely going to get worse -- and many of these standalone companies might want to start thinking about proactively trying to deal with the issue. In the meantime, it seems like the security suite providers should be using this as an opportunity to hype up how their combined offering does everything in one package (even if that's not quite true), so you never need additional, conflicting software.


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  1.  
    identicon
    kurt, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 4:55am

    it doesn't work that way

    anti-malware apps don't decide what to call malware based on examining what other programs do - they can't unless someone has figured out a solution to the halting problem...

    the false positives are because of poorly chosen signatures, nothing more...

     

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  2.  
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    Silent Tech, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 6:22am

    Not as bad as posted

    I have been using these programs for years and have to run into any of the situations posted on this page. I believe someone doesn't know what they are doing and reported items wrong out of ignorance. Granted something needs to be done with the spyware problem, but let's stop talking crap.

     

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  3.  
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    kurt, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 6:33am

    Re: Not as bad as posted

    well, the microsoft product did corrupt registry entries required by the symantec product and effectively break the symantec product but it isn't as widespread or frequent a problem as the article might lead one to believe... it's just something that's good at grabbing people's attention on those rare occasions when it happens...

    it does happen, though... anti-virus developers have been encrypting their products' signature databases for years in order to keep competing products from false alarming on them - that development wouldn't have happened if false positives on competing products were never a problem...

     

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  4.  
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    Michael, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 6:41am

    No Subject Given

    This issue is driving me insane, and not just from the malware angle.

    Imagine this... think of how many people created all of the software on your PC right now. Every product, every driver, everyone at Microsoft, the whole lot. Thousands. Perhaps tens of thousands (quite likely, considering how many people worked on Windows alone).

    Now ask yourself, if you were given a product, and told that tens of thousands of people collaborated on it, and most of them didn't communicate with one another at all, and in fact worked for completely different organizations with little to no thought whatsoever about what the others were doing, with limited or no integration testing, with a good portion of sub-par staff, and very often with conflicting project goals, would you trust the final product?

    I sure as hell wouldn't, but unfortunately that's what you get once you install Windows, a few dozen drivers, some obligatory driver management packages, security software, an office suite, a few games, some graphics packages, graphics plug-ins, office plug-ins, browser plug-ins, taskbar utilities, etc. Now you've got a final product created by Microsoft, Intel, Adobe, ATI, Asus, 3com, Blizzard, Sony, and a few dozen underhanded XYZ companies for other drivers, games, and all those plug-ins, all with their hands in your PC, pulling levers and pushing buttons with little regard for one another.

    Smells like a blue screen waiting to happen to me. And you wonder why Microsoft has such a rep for instability. It's very often not their fault at all.

     

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  5.  
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    lar3ry, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 6:46am

    I doubt the solutions are better...

    I can see one of two outcomes:
    1. Everybody will decide on a single anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware package, and all the other vendors will roll over and play dead
    2. Everybody will get sick of all these "security" packages needed just to run Windows for more than twenty minutes without getting infected and move to OS X or Linux instead.
    Unfortunately, I don't see either of these happening soon. [shrug]

     

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  6.  
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    Wolfger, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 7:12am

    Well...

    Microsoft *is* malware in the opinion of many...

    Seriously, though, if a program is designed to scan your hard drive and remove programs from it, how could it not be seen as potential malware by an uniformed piece of software? And if you try to "correct" the problem by, say, flagging software from a particular vendor as okay, then would malware writers not find a way to spoof the legit vendor ID so as to escape removal?

     

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  7.  
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    Dave, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 8:19am

    Belt, suspenders, stapler, nail gun, superglue

    Why the heck do people try to run multiple realtime protection systems anyway. They are redundant and often interfere with each other. At the very least they don't know about each other so they generate alarmist reports that some other software on the system is doing suspicious stuff.

     

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  8.  
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    txjump, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Madness

    Ya know, I've had my computer up and running on either dsl or fios for several years now and have yet to find a need for all the different "protections". I've used one product for many years and just recently added another, (which hasn't given me any extra benefit).

    I hear of so many users downloading or buying all these products to make their machine better and all they do is create a false sense of security and slow the machine to a crawl.

    The funny thing is that they often don't update the definitions or they don't do their Windows updates.

    Just be aware of what you are putting on your machine, be aware of the sites you vist, don't take candy from strange email, and do your updates!

     

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  9.  
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    Eric, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 10:39am

    No Subject Given

    That's why you shouldn't get any anti-virus / anti-spyware software that has to be paid for. It's all about money and competition to them. Get it from the guys who actually care.

    www.grisoft.com (get avg-free)
    www.download.com (look up adaware se personal)
    www.tweaknow.com (free registry cleaner)

     

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  10.  
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    kurt, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 10:54am

    Re: Madness

    using those 'protections' doesn't create a false sense of security... they're just tools to perform certain security-related tasks...

    it's the media/advertisers/marketing departments that are creating the false sense of security... they promote the idea that just having X installed makes the computer more secure when in reality it's the act of making intelligent use of X that makes the computer more secure...

     

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  11.  
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    Taylor, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 8:23pm

    Windows virus?

    What I want to know is: How long until we have a really agressive AV software that tags WINDOWS as a virus and destroys that?

     

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