Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Problems with Antivirus Software

While not having any form of protection on your electronic device is seriously ill-advised there are however some major issues that can occur when you buy and install an antivirus program. The problems with antivirus software include:

Rogue Security Software

These are malware programs that users install that pretend to be an antivirus. On most occasions the user thinks that their device is now protected against malware when in fact malware such as Trojan Horses are installed on their system. On many occasions the user actually paid for the “fake” antivirus program and hence has been defrauded of their money on top of making their private data available to hackers.
Another one of the main ways people may inadvertently install rogue security software on their devices are by clicking on a website link which pretends to have found malware on their system and prompting that they download or scan their device using that link’s installation prompts.
The best way to avoid installing rogue antivirus software is by always using well known antivirus products and downloading or buying the antivirus directly from the manufacturer’s website or another trusted source. Please visit Wikipedia for more information about Rogue Security Software.

False Positives

There have been numerous reports of antivirus programs deleting or quarantining legitimate programs and even destroying critical operating system applications. Even the most popular antivirus programs have deleted critical files and caused immense damage to computer systems around the world.
All antivirus programs have a clause in their installation terms and conditions that users need to agree to which states that legal action can not be taken against the vendors for damages caused to data and applications as a result of the antivirus program and that the antivirus program should be used at their own risk.

Unexpected Renewal Costs

Most commercial antivirus programs have a subscription clause which states that their antivirus will automatically renew around the time that the licence is about to expire. If you bought the antivirus online the odds are that the vendor you bought the antivirus from will still have your bank card details and will automatically charge you when the time for renewal approaches.  The default settings on most antivirus programs are to automatically renew themselves unless the person who bought the antivirus literally “Opts out” of the process. If you want your automatic renewal option turned off it is recommended that it be done as soon as you bought your licence as some vendors may not allow you to opt out as much as 60 days before the licence is about to expire.

Software Conflicts

Many antivirus programs can conflict with other software applications on you device. Some updates like operating system service pack upgrades or graphics card upgrades may require that your antivirus be turned off at the time of installation; otherwise your update/upgrade may be unsuccessful. In addition, antivirus programs don’t like other antivirus programs. Because many antivirus programs use the same resources on your device, they won’t work together. On most occasions only one antivirus program can be installed on your device at a time.

Antivirus Effectiveness and New Malware

No antivirus program can detect and remove all known viruses.  There have also been a lot more mention of Zero Day Attacks in the news lately which is not detectable until it is too late and the malware has executed its purpose. In a nutshell, a zero day attack is when a previously unknown vulnerability is discovered on electronic devices and the malware writers target these vulnerabilities before the antivirus vendors and application writers can find a solution to stop the malware. For more detailed information on Zero day Attacks click here – Zero Day Attacks.
New malware code is written everyday and on many occasions the people that write this code actually test it against the major antivirus programs to ensure that it is not detectable. Unfortunately antivirus vendors can not stop these viruses until they have actually discovered them.  Most of the major antivirus vendors allow users to send in any file to them that they suspect is infected with malware so that the vendor may update their antivirus programs to stop and remove it.

Other Antivirus Issues

  • System Slowdown – For an antivirus to be effective it needs to scan the user’s files, new emails and system processes for malware.  This however can eat up a lot of the electronic device’s processing power and memory, making the user’s device feels sluggish and slow.
  • Rootkits – It is really difficult for antivirus programs to detect rootkits which has compromised the user’s operating system. Rootkits have full administrative control of the device they’re on. They are hidden from the “task manager” and can change key operating system settings. Rootkits can also evade and  manipulate antivirus programs.
  • Damaged Files – Once malware has been detected on your device, the antivirus program may be able to remove the malware however the file/s that contained the malware or were corrupted by the malware can not be recovered to their original operational state. The only way to fix this is by restoring existing backups of the damaged files and data.
  • Firmware – Antivirus software is unable to protect your BIOS from infection. Some antivirus programs have also been known to block legitimate firmware updates leaving the users’ firmware outdated.

Derivative Source – Wikipedia/Antivirus Software

1 comment:

  1. With all the high profile hacking scandals which have hit many major companies lately, it is sad to say that unfortunately there is no way to stop the hackers using malware to cause damage to these companies.

    However, as the intro to this article suggests, it is better to have an antivirus installed on your computer that be completely open to attack.

    Don't make it easy for the hackers!!!