Trust in Windows Defender Antivirus

Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2017 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows defender, antivirus, Kaspersky

You have likely heard of the spat between Kaspersky Labs and Microsoft, in which Kaspersky have filed a complaint with the European Commission stating that Microsoft is purposely disabling their antivirus program.  Microsoft replied with their view of this dispute, stating that they do indeed disable antivirus programs when there is a risk that a Windows update would stop the third party antivirus from running anyways.  The Inquirer and others were told that as a service to the user they ensure that Windows Defender is activated and on the job to protect them.

Many of us have had issues in which an update causes an antivirus program to lobotomize a valued program or operating system because of false positives, often leading to an eternal reboot loop until you can find the offending update or program.  This leads to a question of expectations; is it reasonable that Microsoft test the compatibility of their OS with antivirus vendors, either internally or by releasing an early version those vendors can test?  We are likely to see a court case to determine that in the near future, the EC previously ruled against Microsoft in 2004 regarding Windows Media Player as well as in 2009 regarding Internet Explorer (pdf) so we may indeed see another ruling which forces Microsoft to allow users to disable Windows Defender.

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"The post goes on to admit that, yes, it does deactivate third party AV, if there is a risk of an update to Windows that stops the AV working anyway."

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Source: The Inquirer

Is working in computer security bad for your sanity?

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2017 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: Kaspersky, antivirus, security, Threat de Toilette

If you are not aware of the story of John McAfee, who created the popular antivirus software before leaving to live a far more interesting life you should read up on it.  Those who work in online and information security will have some sympathy for his decision as the job is rather thankless and not exactly something you can effectively use as a topic of conversation at a party.  Kaspersky Labs may now be showing signs of distress after launching their new perfume line, Threat de Toilette.  Yes, perfume. 

There is a method to their madness if you read past the first few paragraphs on The Register.  The perfume line is being advertised by fashion bloggers, who have reason to want their online information to be secure as it is the source of their livelihood and who have an audience which is not particularly knowledgeable about keeping themselves safe online.  It is an intriguing way to try to spread the word about online security; here's hoping it helps at least a few people.

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"The thing is, while Kaspersky is possibly talking crap about the perfume, it does manage to squeeze in a lot of good advice about security and the personal protection of it. Why it would send this to us is another mystery."

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Source: The Register

Update your AntiVirus software and you won't have to worry

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2015 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: security, avg, Kaspersky, mcafee

To reverse the usual order, the good news is that AVG fixed the issue a while ago, as have Intel, owner of McAfee, as well as Kaspersky.  The bad news is that this exploit is rather nasty and was completely avoidable with a bit of forethought.  Of all the programs to follow a predictable pattern, AV software is the last one you would want to see do so.  There is a tool over at github to allow you to check your own vulnerability.  Personal machines should be good to go but as The Register mentions, at least one Enterprise level AV program is vulnerable and those definitions are often updated along a different path that consumer level products. 

Chances are you are safe, but you should probably double check.

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"In March, researchers at security firm enSilo found a serious flaw in popular free antivirus engine AVG Internet Security 2015. They found that the software was allocating memory for read, write, and execute (RWX) permissions in a predictable address that an attacker could use to inject code into a target system."

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Source: The Register