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Microsoft considering anti-virus support
December 11, 2001 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft considering anti-virus support and why we should care.
posted by GriffX (13 comments total)

 
sure, our outlook express may be a breeding gound for macro viri and we could fix the program, but instead you can install this antivirus software that will protect your computer from people showing you our shortcomings.
posted by chrisroberts at 9:35 AM on December 11, 2001


Antivirus software would let the company connect to users' machines more than ever before. People don't necessarily like this idea. They don't trust the company, and over the years they've fretted that Microsoft might look at their Quicken records or spy to see whose competitive software is listed in the Registry, and then erase crucial files. These notions are crazy, but they simmer deep in the public consciousness.

If by "public", he means "certain segments of the computer industry", then yes, he is correct. But I seriously doubt that a significant portion of the general public even cares that Bill Gates will one day have more access to their machine than Norton has.

Is it just me, or does this guy come across as having an axe to grind with MS?
posted by gd779 at 9:36 AM on December 11, 2001


It's hard to say whether Dvorak has a legitmate axe of his own to grind or if he's just muckraking as usual, but "certain segments of the computer industry," while it may may not precisely map to "public," overlooks the deep market penetration that Microsoft has enjoyed and would like to increase.
posted by alumshubby at 9:42 AM on December 11, 2001


I love pundits that accuse msft of what they might do -- jeez, like there isn't enough bs to worry about in the present.
posted by victors at 10:09 AM on December 11, 2001


I would trust Microsoft monitoring my computer as much as any cRiMiNaL.

(kidding - though I will choose not to install it. I don't trust them, so hard to understand, keh?)
posted by holloway at 10:59 AM on December 11, 2001


The idea of Microsoft controlling my virus protection makes me shudder. I wouldn't use their product if it were free, just as I would never use MS as my firewall. They just don't *get* security the way they should.
The enterprise I'm working on now uses four different virus protections. One on the firewall, one on the SMTP server, one on the exchange box for files, and Trend for Exchange scanning and we STILL get viruses! Imagine if you got to use one little MS product that they promise will do it all...you might as well give out the domain admin passwords to the whole world and call it quits now.
There are some things MS does well. Security, and one could surmise, virus protection, are NOT some of those things.
posted by aacheson at 11:02 AM on December 11, 2001


There are very legitimate issues of security by letting Microsoft manage your anti-virus protection... especially if it could be used for letting the government access your computer.

Show me the antivirus company that will choose to eradicate whatever virii the FBI or the music industry think up and they'll have my money...
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:07 AM on December 11, 2001


Thanks for that link, insomnia_lj - goodness, but that's disturbing.
posted by GriffX at 11:29 AM on December 11, 2001


And to continue the paranoid fantasy, shortly after the feature in insomnia_lj's linked article is introduced, *x is declared a tool for terrorists and anarchists, who come under the careful electronic scrutiny of the Man.

"So, you didn't want to allow us to keep your system safe for you, huh? I guess you must have something to hide. Quickly, Ling Pao, fetch the electrodes and the soldering iron!"
posted by alumshubby at 11:43 AM on December 11, 2001


They don't trust the company, and over the years they've fretted that Microsoft might [ ... ] spy to see whose competitive software is listed in the Registry, and then erase crucial files. These notions are crazy ...

Sure. Just ask the DrDos gang. Crazy. Would never happen.
posted by RavinDave at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2001


The fact that Microsoft is asking for trust should itself be worrying. You shouldn't have to trust, or mistrust, a software provider. Trust only has currency in the absence of knowledge.

Let me know, then I don't have to trust.
posted by yesster at 12:46 PM on December 11, 2001


Is there a problem with the manufacturer of an operating system also writing antivirus software for that system? In many ways, yes.

How do you get rid of other antivirus software competitors? By purposefully including security flaws in your operating system, and then being the first antivirus software manufacturer to address the security problems.

What incentive do you have to release patches to your operating system for unintentional security problems when your antivirus program will address those problems and your antivirus competitors products might not? None.

How damaging is it to have consumers questioning your motivations when you suggest a course of action like this? Very - sometimes the appearance of impropriety can be as damaging as the actual occurrence.

Part of the value that antivirus manufacturers add is that they are independent of the operating system manufacturer.
posted by bragadocchio at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2001


If by "public", he means "certain segments of the computer industry", then yes, he is correct. But I seriously doubt that a significant portion of the general public even cares that Bill Gates will one day have more access to their machine than Norton has.

Is it just me, or does this guy come across as having an axe to grind with MS?


While it does seem a bit anti-MS, it is a valid paranoia that the company you trust to secure your system is also trusted with the information you hold valuable. Yet, this step for Microsoft was predictable. Back in the DOS days (6.22 I believe), they did have a form of anti-virus software. It was back when your worst offenders were MBR and EXE/COM virii. Now, the whole perspective has changed...a virus can hook into and replicate through servers (IIS namely), be mass mailed via e-mail and launched by a variety of ways.

Back then, MSAV was phased out because of competition and I would assume the reasons mentioned in this article. Yet now, it seems that Microsoft is already taking the role of an Anti-Virus company with it's critical updates and emergency patches. Functionality has greatly increased with their Windows product, and with it, the number of possible security holes. (basically, I see the critical update working in conjunction with AV). The main problem I have with Microsoft handling this however, is that the AV engine will stand out in face of virii developers. Let's see how well it compliments the system before jumping to conclusions however.
posted by samsara at 11:42 AM on December 12, 2001


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