Sunday, August 19, 2012

Good bye, Symantec

Symantec anti-virus has just told me that the tool I have downloaded is suspect, and has deleted the file for me, so that I am a safe and happy drone on the Internet. The message was: "WS.Reputation.1 is a detection for files that have a low reputation score based on analyzing data from Symantec’s community of users and therefore are likely to be security risks. Detections of this type are based on Symantec’s reputation-based security technology. Because this detection is based on a reputation score, it does not represent a specific class of threat like adware or spyware, but instead applies to all threat categories." So, if not enough people use a special purpose tool for a small industry, that file downloaded from the company must be bad and is automatically deleted to protect me. Good-bye Symantec anti-virus. And your solution, Symantec, of: "WHITE-LISTING Software developers who want to accelerate the reputation building process for their new software applications should submit new applications to the Symantec white-listing program. Details of that program can be found here." So, Mr. Developer, please pay us money so that folks will believe your software to be "Safe" is extortion in a base form. And all those users of special tools, that might have a following of 100-1000, you don’t need this version; it might not be safe enough for you to use. Call the developers and get them to call Symantec. Or fill out our form and do our job for us, and tell us what this software is so we can raise its score. I knew that Symantec had jumped the shark in terms of system tools along about the release of their protection suite for internet, and their annual renewal license for software I had already purchased, but this is the last straw. Their attempt to sound all cutting edge with: "The reputation-based system uses "the wisdom of crowds" (Symantec’s tens of millions of end users) connected to cloud-based intelligence to compute a reputation score for an application, and in the process identify malicious software in an entirely new way beyond traditional signatures and behavior-based detection techniques.” Is really just their way of saying that they are not going to research these millions of files anymore, and are going to let their user base do the work for them. In the case of the file I was downloading from its creator, I would have to guess that most (99%) of their customers would have no idea what to do with this tool, and so would never download it. That being said, of course their crowd can't tell them anything, and rather than say "hey, we can't guarantee that this file is safe." deleting it is so obviously the right choice, because everyone knows that all unknown files are bad. Morons. Lazy, incompetent, idiotic, morons. This ends a relationship with a company that I started buying their tools from in 1988. I am sad to say that the vision of Peter Norton is long gone from this company and that they really should consider their market, and their place in it. I do understand that the constant escalation of virus writers and anti-virus software has to change, but this is an unacceptable answer. At least products like Zone Alarm ask me my level of experience with computers and set some of their defaults accordingly, so that they prompt me to make sure of safe or unsafe actions. And certainly Symantec is trapped in the middle of an arms race with more users on the Internet downloading more different files every day, and more unique viruses and more ways for those viruses to hide, but to simply assume that a reputation score warrants file removal for a file downloaded from the source of the program is just too much for me. So I must bid Symantec good bye, and go find alternate anti-virus software for the Windows box.