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Antivirus Gone Wild

Anti-Virus products behaving badly.

Living without antivirus software

[adsense:728x15:5447199818]Ok, I'll admit it. I've been living dangerously for the last several years.

To be blunt: I refused to install any kind of antivirus or personal firewall software on most of my computers (but see Update 1/1/2012, below.) This included a Windows XP Home system that was used by my children as a web surfing / email / game system. I suffered zero infections during this time. (The only time I ever suffered a malware infection was before, when I did rely on Norton Antivirus to protect the kids' computer.)

Why do I refuse to use these massively popular widely-used products? Simple. I am convinced that in my case, they may cause more harm than good, and that they foster a false sense of security - leading some users to engage in riskier behavior.

Further, antivirus software is almost always behind the curve - by definition, the antivirus people are playing catch-up with the malware writers. It's a good living for them, but I choose not to contribute to it.

As a software developer, I cannot afford any downtime due to buggy software, and yes - antivirus software has bugs. Not long ago, one major antivirus package ran amok, causing widespread damage by deleting harmless user data and programs.

Antivirus gone wild: Kaspersky busts Windows Explorer

This morning's news brings reports of another case of mistaken identity leading to false arrest and other abuses of power by our neighborhood beat cop (um, I mean, anti-virus product.)

This time, Kaspersky anti-virus pulled Windows Explorer to the side of the road, hauled it off to jail, and put it in solitary confinement on suspicion of being infected with Huhk-C (reported to be a low-risk virus.)

Windows Explorer was eventually cleared of all charges and released. One hopes that the renegade cop Kaspersky faces disciplinary action. Given the historic lack of corrective action I'm not holding my breath.

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