It seems that the two biggest anti-virus companies Symantec and McAfee have been naughty boys. They’ve been hit with fines for £230k for automatically charging customers to renew their subscriptions. Oh dear. Customers complained because they hadn’t been given fair warning that this would happen.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Californian based companies – Microsoft are currently prepping a beta release of their free anti-virus software, Morro.
Consumers should also be aware that there are plenty of other free options available to them for their computer security. AVG and Avast are big names in terms of free anti-virus protection and there are plenty of others out there. Spend a little while researching – you’re sure to find a perfect option to suit your own circumstances.
Also, before you splash out for a commercial option check with your bank to see if you can get free protection through them. Many online banking sites will provide their customers with a link to get free protection with a service that they’d usually have to pay for. For example, Barclays has a deal with Kaspersky and HSBC offers McAfee for free.
It pays to be safe but why pay for something when you don’t have to?
I’ve been a long-time fan of AVG Free Antivirus, until recently when I had to swap to Avast because it worked with Vista 64, and AVG didn’t. That said, with free antivirus software you’re always running the risk of ‘getting what you paid for’ and experiencing a show-stopping bug.
Well, AVG’s show-stopping moment occurred on Sunday. It somehow got it into its head that user32.dll – a critical Windows file that lets users interact with programs – contained one of two Trojan Horses – PSW.Banker4.APSA or Generic9TBN. AVG, hilariously, recommended deleting the file, which would cause a system to either fail to boot, or get stuck in a continuous reboot cycle.
Quarter past nine on a Monday morning. I’m staring at the thick oak beam of long polished table wondering what the hell I’m doing at briefing about internet security. My last journalistic foray into this turgid corner of the tech world had me stuck talking anti-virus software with one of the chief marketing officers at a leading company. I recall a solid 40 minutes of the internet neighbourhood watch warnings as the canapes passed just out of reach behind his back. The hungrier I got the more it sapped my soul. My last conscious thought was “never again”. Never again; until today.
I’m not sure if it was the lure of the Soho House, the charm of the invitation or, more likely, the promise of breakfast but somehow, between them, they short-circuited that old memory in my brain; they silenced its voice. Down went that corner of my neural net; a localised blackout and now here I am in my trainers and jeans, most others with a collar at least. Quarter past nine on a Monday morning. Fifteen minutes before I’m usually at work.
Ed Gibson begins the day more upset than I am that his cooked breakfast hasn’t arrived but that’s probably where the similarity ends. Edward P Gibson is Microsoft’s chief security advisor and a former operative with the FBI. He takes comfortable control of the room of assembled journalists with the warmth and ease of his Midwest drawl. I wonder if that manner served him well at the FBI. I wonder if he’s enjoying his retirement, but by the end of the morning I’ll have changed my mind about how much rest he’s getting in his new profession…