January 27, 2006

Symantec Antivirus (and Jetico personal firewall)

Symantec antivirus… Don't install this. Ever. Even at gun point.
(and yes, this is the AV software recommended to you by ITS)

I have tried to avoid heavily computing based blog entries so far but this has annoyed me enough to write something public on it. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a reviews section for software.

I have just installed it, and very rapidly decided to uninstall it. My reasons for hating it were:

  1. It doesnt ask you where to install it, it just puts in in 'Program Files' which is on the wrong drive on my system.
  2. It installs 7 services, all for virus protection, 2 is excessive for any one piece of software.
  3. It makes the system horrifically slow. This is usual for Anti-virus programs with resident protection mechanisms but in this case it was unusable even with everything disabled.
  4. It crashes if the firewall denies it internet access after saying 'your network is not correctly configured'.
  5. 5 of the 7 processes remained running after disabling everything, and were in the top 7 in the list processes sorted by CPU usage.
  6. It keeps givnig those stupid baloon pop-ups which irritate me. Especially when it is just to say "you have just disabled resident protection" YES I KNOW, I JUST CLICKED IT.
  7. Having decided within a few minutes to uninstall it, it took me a good ten minutes to regain enough control of my system (which has been stable for 2 years now) to remove it.
  8. When you uninstall it, it doesnt actually uninstall everything, you have to go and clean up after it (Find LiveUpdate and remove)

ITS used to use and give a license for Kaspersky AV, which is must better though still not perfect. I wish they still did.

Rant ends.

To balance this out, if you know what you're doing and you want a firewall program get Jetico Personal Firewall . This is the most rigidly and sensibly built piece of software I've seen in ages. It has every feature you could possibly want in a firewall and is infinitely configurable, it is just out right brilliance, a credit to Jetico and to the computing industry as a whole.

- 26 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Actually that is a bit irresponsible of me…
    If you have no other choice, then I guess you should install Symantec under the Uni's license rather than having nothing at all, that would be a bad idea.

    27 Jan 2006, 22:14

  2. hrf

    If you hate Symantec and want to trial something…
    Kaspersky Personal Pro (aka Kasperksy AV version 5) has a few nifty features to make resident protection and scans in general go quickly than the previous version.
    Yes, as with all virus scanners, a full system scan will slow your PC down and should be performed when you are not using the PC. It has an option to "Shut down after done" so you can start it after before you've gone elsewhere.
    Ive been using 'a well known direct connect file sharing application' and playing GTASA while kaspersky is 'residentally protecting' and notice no adverse affects.
    It comes with a 30 day trial key. I have not enabled the 'protection against network attacks' as I am behind a hardware firewall. One less thing to worry about…
    Kaspersky Personal
    Kaspersky Personal Pro
    Both apparently work with CPU speed down to 150MHz 98/NT/2k and 300MHz for XP :)

    27 Jan 2006, 23:47

  3. Lee Davis

    Kaspersky is still licensed and available. It all seems a bit of a black art though. Norton came preinstalled on my laptop and is fine, however when I tried it on my previous laptop I was similarly unimpressed, and it is a complete git to remove all traces of it.
    I Have also had problems with Kaspersky on some machines, and it does have an annoying tendency to randomly hog most of your processor time, though I would proabbly still install it in preference to Norton on a clean machine.

    27 Jan 2006, 23:58

  4. I've found Symantec AV Pro to be fine – much better than the one that you can buy in the shops – get it from here if you want. I've run this on my network of machines at work, as well as my machines at home, no problems whatsoever. I don't know why you're seeing high CPU usage – on the machine I'm on now I see a total of 31 sec of CPU time on the SAV services, accumulated on a 1 h uptime – hardly excessive.

    28 Jan 2006, 00:08

  5. At the risk of asking noob questions:

    – Is Jetico better/worse/other than Zone Alarm?

    – Anything wrong with Grisoft's AVG Free Edition?

    28 Jan 2006, 02:11

  6. link – For AntiVirus.

    For firewalls use a proper hardware one.

    28 Jan 2006, 02:33

  7. HRF: Yes, I found your e-mail last night and… used it. B.t.w: there is no problem with mentioning DC++ by name. While they are entitled to disallow people to use it here, using it outside is still legal and breach of free speach is beyond even them.

    Lee: Where can I get the license from? The thing I liked about the old kaspersky is that it didn't require to be permenantly running. You could just run it when required.

    Max: Such is the way with computers but the 7 services and lack of install path option are inexcusable.

    Simon: Not tried Grisoft, maybe I will some time. Jetico kicks the ass off ZoneAlarm, even the Pro version. I used to use ZoneAlarm Pro but changed when I wanted to control what addresses a particular application could connect to and discovered ZoneAlarm couldn't do it. Jetico works on a rules system, which alows complete configurability, no matter what you want to do. Also, it can be used as a packet logger, which allowed me to help ITS with the periodic disconnects last term. For ages, I had been looking for a program which could display a list of applications along with the connections they were using. The other day I discovered Jetico does this aswell. It has no silly graphics, no big rounded buttons, no baloon pop-ups, just good old fashed simple windows and buttons.

    Chris: I shall try NOD32 one day aswell. And as for the firewall, I am poor… Jetico is free, hardware isn't.

    28 Jan 2006, 07:56

  8. Lee Davis

    I usually install Kaspersky straight off the engineering server. A quick search of the ITS site for Kaspersky shows that the required license file is available here (you probably need to be logged in to insite to access it.

    28 Jan 2006, 09:21

  9. Just to interject, I've said this before and I stand by it: if you're reasonably competent with a computer (basically, if you don't go clicking on links in spam emails or dodgy websites, and don't download any *cough* interesting files from P2P networks), you don't need an anti-virus program. And if you're running Windows XP SP2+, you don't need a third-party firewall either (unless you're doing something special that warrants it, of course).

    28 Jan 2006, 12:45

  10. hrf

    Alex Kirkwood: I beg to differ. You definately need a firewall with all microsoft products. Nobody know how many undiscovered flaws there are with M$ stuff. not even M$. It's only a matter of time before somebody figures out how to get into a new found security hole.
    With the complexity of any piece of software nowadays no-one can say for sure it is secure.
    Also if you want to protect your privacy, a firewall will block outward access also. Not everybody want information collected on their use of a bit of software :)

    If you choose to do things which take you into the unknown you will also need a virus scanner.

    I beleive…
    -Having a firewall is a must with M$ products
    -Having a virus scanner depends on what you do.

    28 Jan 2006, 17:29

  11. hrf

    oh and before you say xpsp2 has a firewall built in. Don't make me laff. Its awful.
    Also ask yourself, can you trust a company whos product has so many security fixes each month to make a firewall?

    28 Jan 2006, 17:31

  12. >> "Nobody know how many undiscovered flaws there are with M$ stuff. not even M$."

    I guess that's true. I mean, while they remain "undiscovered," nobody knows about them – good point. Or more seriously: why single out Microsoft for this statement? There are plenty of articles available on the topic of security in Linux vs. Windows, for example, many of them drawing the conclusion that Linux contains more security flaws. Of course, Windows is the prevalent operating system, hence more vulnerabilities are discovered in it, but is that really a good reason to jump on the anti-MS bandwagon?

    >> "With the complexity of any piece of software nowadays no-one can say for sure it is secure. Also if you want to protect your privacy, a firewall will block outward access also. Not everybody want information collected on their use of a bit of software :)"

    Again, technically correct. But I think missing the point a little; choose carefully which software to install and this need never be a worry. Obviously if you're paranoid about internet anonymity, then fine, get an expensive hardware firewall, use anonymous proxies, whatever. As I pointed out, if you have some special reason to want/need advanced protection features then that's a different matter.

    >> "If you choose to do things which take you into the unknown you will also need a virus scanner."


    >> "oh and before you say xpsp2 has a firewall built in. Don't make me laff. Its awful. Also ask yourself, can you trust a company whos product has so many security fixes each month to make a firewall?"

    Yes, I trust them far more than I'd trust a company whose product is riddled with holes but who doesn't release security fixes.

    Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. If you are going to be running (legal, of course) P2P software, then an anti-virus program is usually a good idea. You never know what kind of malicious files are going to be lurking out there, even if the file you're searching for is beyond reproach. Likewise, should you be installing strange pieces of free/shareware, or other applications with dubious credentials, a firewall can be handy too (though Google certainly knows far more about me than any program on my computer is likely to – there certainly do exist tracking and data-mining methods that firewalls cannot do anything about).

    I can only speak from my own experience, but with a little common sense applied, I (my PCs, obviously, not me personally) have never contracted a computer virus. I use the Windows XP firewall, and install only programs that I decide I can trust (be they commercial or otherwise). I'm quite happy with this arrangement, but I can of course only give advice. I've seen people do some horrible, horrible things to their computers in the past, and safe is always better than sorry!

    28 Jan 2006, 18:05

  13. Chris H: thanks but it's missing that critical word free! I don't run my PC as a mail server – don't even have a POP3 account at the moment – so I'm not too concerned about that functionality.

    I keep meaning to install Grisoft; I currently have Kaspersky installed (having downloaded the licence in my first year, 4 years ago now!) but it hangs my PC every now and then. PC needs a good reformat anyway.

    And thanks for the Jetico link. Duly downloaded!

    28 Jan 2006, 22:48

  14. Lee: for some reason I can't get to that link from my insite (or SSO) login (I have a physics undergraduate phu*** login)

    29 Jan 2006, 20:39

  15. People who don't do lots of file sharing, and have a good firewall, shouldn't need resident protection. The online scanner at www.pandasoftware.com is fast, free and good. If you want to see what's adding itself to your startup registry key (as viruses like to), use the beta of Microsoft's Anti-Spyware which shows pop-ups when startup programs are added.

    31 Jan 2006, 00:18

  16. Earlier today I installed 'Kaspersky for Windows workstations' anti-virus program and quickly decided it looked like a reasonably good piece of software.

    It found a piece of malicious spyware called 'newdotnet' and deleted it (Which, I note, Symantec didn't pick up at all). Unfortunately this completely killed the network system on my computer leading me to believe I had to reinstall windows. This system had been stable for 3 years, which is impressive by Microsoft's standards and when I started making a list of the things on here that would need reinstalling I made it 45. This was going to be a big operation that would need a good few days of no project work, no watching episodes of anything and no contact with inmportant things without fishing the laptop out.

    I was about to brake down and cry (or throw the damn thing out the window) when I found something called LSP-fix written by some bloke called 'Bill Webb – A small utility to fix the damage done by newdotnet. I am now very relieved and much happier, but will need a good few days out on the airfield to get over the thought of spending 3 days installing software.

    So it seems certain computery people like the guy who broke LSP-fix are clearly amazing. However people who write things like 'newdotnet' need their legs broken.. and arms.. sod it, hang 'em. Also Kaspersky ought not to have deleted it. grrrr…

    Thank you Bill Webb and cexx.org!

    31 Jan 2006, 00:43

  17. Antivirus protection is all very well until somebody finds a new way of exploiting your computer that it doesn't pick up. There's always a chance that you could get infected by something new that your scanner doesn't understand to be a threat yet. Even after your detection base gets updated you're back to the start again.

    With this dynamic, you are only truly safe if you follow Alex's advice and use trust and your own common sense. If you can't rely on those, then use antivirus and firewalls to give you that bit of support.

    Remember that antivirus is there to try and clean up nasties once they are already on your computer, possibly having done some damage already: This is just about prevention and cure, where if you're sure you're not going to get a virus through anything you do, you don't need to continuously check if you've got any. This is obviously preferable but doesn't work for everybody

    31 Jan 2006, 01:05

  18. Christopher Rossdale


    Thank me later! Then thank Mannion even later!

    31 Jan 2006, 02:44

  19. Avast looks good, better than Grisoft in most respects. As I don't use Outlook, though, Grisoft has the edge for me because the free version can do scheduled scans.

    31 Jan 2006, 10:04

  20. Avast looks a bit too fancy and bloaty to me. I like my programs to be simple and functional in design, which is probably why I liked Jetico so much and refuse to upgrade to win XP from 2000.

    Despite its actions yesterday I'm going to stick with Kaspersky for a while. It is reasonably simple and has some fancy file tracking thing called iStreams where it puts info into the NTFS about things it has scanned. I'm hoping this will make the resident protection bearable and will try it later in the week.

    31 Jan 2006, 16:49

  21. Oli, just by way of some balance, I have to say I have Symantec on my laptop (which is a University machine) and on my desktop at home (personal). I've never experienced any of the problems you mention. I certainly don't find the resident checking to be a hog or to slow my machine down in any noticeable way and whilst I do nothing very demanding with my work machine (browsing, email, wordprocessing and some excel/access/crystal reporting from time to time), I do play some pretty demanding games on my home machine and I'd certainly notice there if it was grinding the machine down. Perhaps I have a better spec machine than you though!

    01 Feb 2006, 13:23

  22. I use Avast. It has a free home edition, and once you've turned off the annoying popup notifications (really, I don't need to know every time the virus definitions are updated) it runs well and is good. I'd recommend it. In fact, I am pretty much doing that now by saying it's good!

    01 Feb 2006, 14:17

  23. sky

    personal firewall is needed for most of us, many web can download free!


    28 Jun 2006, 04:29

  24. harry12

    dont understand your questions or comments, what’s this about an orange, then?
    On Jetico…I used it for about 4 minutes and disabled it. It has a fancy graphic (looks like an audio level) and pop-ups that ask wiered things – I assume these are OK yet after all the OK’s and zero (No, block this) it won’t allow connection to Google…it goes through some long-delay to tell me there is no connection …I presume that is IE trying to get a connection…..so what is the point of something that stops all internet operation?...I can pull the plug for that level of security.
    It doesn’t ask “do you want to connect to Google?” – no, it just blocks it…....
    You guys that like it must be configuring it different from how it configures itself….Whenever I use IE…as I type a letter the address fills itself with “previously-used” addresses – so why can’t Jetico go through this list and let me mark them “Good, Bad, Maybe” ....the real World is surprisingly simple.
    Is “add comment” to “SEND” – as I don’t see a “Send Msg” button…...

    07 Aug 2006, 11:39

  25. Kate

    I agree about Jetico. It is dreadful. I tried that and Comodo and ditched them both and went back to Zone Alarm.

    AVG is useless as well.

    Avast is the best free anti-virus.

    20 Jun 2007, 20:52

  26. angel

    No es que quiera hacer publicidad pero pienso que con el tiempo todos tendremos que pagar un “canon” por un antivirus, o sea la compra y actualizaciones anuales. Es terrible el tiempo que he perdido en limpiar el ordenador, ni siquiera con una restauración del sistema se ha corregido el problema. A golpe de HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Run y RunOnce. Que horror, y ni que decir de los Adware, hay que ser cansinos. Cuantas veces se nos ha pasado por la cabeza que se nos estropea el ordenador y que tenemos que hacer una copia de seguridad cuanto antes. Nadie ni núnca se esta a salvo de una eventual pérdida de datos de discos duros de ahí la importancia de un buen sistema de copias de seguridad. Esta es la mejor forma de recuperar su informacion en un momento de desastre que generalmente coincide con las prisas a la hora de utilizar el sistema. Y si a pesar de todo es necesario una recuperacion de datos ó recuperar el disco duro porque no teníamos las copias actualizadas, le recomendamos consulte con una empresa especializada como es el caso de www.lineared.com en dónde le podrán recuperar los datos ó llevar a cabo la recuperacion del disco duro . No lo dude, esta es la forma mas eficaz y segura de recuperar discos duros .

    30 Jun 2007, 12:52

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