Q: I think I have a virus despite having installed Norton Internet Security. How can that happen? Suzie form Rogersville
A: This is an issue we see quite often here at the shop. Your problem is that Norton Antivirus stinks and its big brother, Norton Internet Security, stinks to high heaven. To be perfectly fair to Symantec (the makers of Norton products), their main rival, Network Associates (the makers of McAfee products), stink, too.
These programs used to be really effective. However, over the past few years hackers and virus authors have found ways of getting around their defenses. Neither company has done a good job of patching these flaws. Many critics say that neither Norton nor McAfee have released a truly “new” version in years and that they simply repackage the old stuff in a new package. I don’t know how true that is but the theory jibes with my experiences with their products.
Norton and McAfee products are actually excellent when properly maintained. Their enterprise and corporate products are quite effective in the hands of professionals. This is one reason many “computer pros” still like the programs. But average home computer users are doctors, teachers, sanitation engineers or lawyers – not computer pros. They just want to press a button and have the computer work properly. They don’t know that you have to baby sit these programs to make sure they continue to protect your computer.
Symantec and McAfee both have “Automatic Update” features that somehow become disabled and open the door to a flood of new viruses. Their “Internet Security” products have been great revenue generators for my business. These security programs will ask you if a certain program is supposed to have access to the internet. The problem that we see in the shop is that many people answer “no” to block access for some programs that should have access and answer “yes” to programs (such as viruses or spyware programs) that should not have access. After a few wrong answers, your computer gets confused and requires the services of a professional who will charge you good money to undo the damage.
Before y’all rush off to uninstall these products, hold up a second. One of my prime rules of computing is, If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It. If you have no complaints about these products, then please carry on. They are, after all, infinitely better than no protection at all. However, there are better choices out there.
On the other hand, if you are having problems with viruses, internet connectivity issues or other weird problems, you may want to look at uninstalling your Symantec and McAfee products and downloading the free products that I’ve mentioned in this column previously. If you want a list of some free-but-really-good security programs visit my website or email me and I’ll hook you up.