Is an Antivirus really necessary?

Discussion in 'other anti-virus software' started by pacifist, Feb 24, 2004.

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  1. pacifist

    pacifist Registered Member

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    Hi, new here.

    Is an Antivirus really necessary ... Now hear me out.

    Without having an Antivirus or a Firewall and being connected to the internet, would make just about as much sense as a million dollar mansion having no doors or windows or security system to protect the valuables inside.

    I used to just run an Antivirus a few years back and hardly suffered from any problems, save a few. Since getting Ad-aware, Spy-bot and a Firewall, my machine has been problem free. Too, my knowledge I have not had a virus on the machine since then.

    The problem is my machine is somewhat a dinosaur and the antivirus is the biggest culprit. Without an antivirus running, things actually feel smoother and definitely run/load faster.

    Now if I just run a firewall, how protected will I really be ... Let me first say this, I do not fileshare, I do not open up suspicious e-mails (i.e. I do not run any programs sent to me) and I try to stay clear of any "dangerous sites". The reason I ask this is like I said before, since I got anti-spyware programs and a firewall, I have not had any problems and of course I have not had a virus. Now I had antivirus running, yet I never got any viruses.

    Now I know what you are saying, its prevention, but picture this. A mother straps on 50 pillows around her little boys body to protect him from falling down, getting beaten up or thrown by rocks. He sure is protected, but he can't exactly walk around comfortably and the other kids sure do mock him. Another little kid goes walking around without those pillows and he is fine. Did the little boy really need the pillows in the first place?

    If say, I use F-prot for DOS to scan any programs I download and I always have a Firewall running, how am I doing? I also do not use IE as a browser. Is my prehistoric PC okay?

    In simpler terms... Is a memory resident scanner really needed, taking into account all I have said before? My PC just feels even older than it really is (even though it is ancient) when I do have one running.

    Thank You
     
  2. nameless

    nameless Registered Member

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    This question, usually associated with trolling, has come up a billion times already. Some points:

    * Most people, particularly people in forums like this, will offer a knee-jerk reaction to the effect that "You're NUTS to consider not running an anti-virus application!"

    * Anti-virus applications often do cause much more trouble to a given user than malware every has or likely will. I'm a prime example of this. Where anti-virus applications are concerned, I've spent ridiculous sums of money, invested way too much time, and suffered far too many system problems (from slow-downs to blue-screen crashes). I've never had malware do any harm to me, and no, that isn't thanks to anti-virus software.

    * The contents of packaged setup files--which are very prevalent when downloading software--cannot be scanned. You won't be able to scan the application until it has already been installed.

    * If you are truly careful, then you probably won't ever come across malware. Probably. Who knows?

    * Opera and other "non-MSIE" browsers have had serious security problems, too.

    In the end, it's your gamble. Anti-virus software really sucks. (THERE, I SAID IT!) It is expensive, problematic, and error prone. Malware can be even worse.

    In seven years, I've never activated a single virus, worm, trojan, or spyware. Will the next Windows vulnerability do me in? Will anti-virus software even make a difference when it counts? Is all the continued expense, slowness, and instability worth it? Roll the dice. Anti-virus software is a serious trade-off; don't let anyone tell you differently.

    If it's really that much of a problem for you, I'd say you should get a decent real-time scanner, and activate it just when you install new software. Disactivate it at all other times, but scan regularly with the on-demand scanner. That's good enough, unless you do something really careless at some point in the future.

    Let the rebuttals begin!
     
  3. Ailric

    Ailric Guest

    The first thing I have to say is:
    "You're NUTS to consider not running an anti-virus application!" ;)

    Try F-Prot for Windows. It runs smoothly on my 200MMX 64MB RAM system and effortless on my brother's P133 48MB RAM system. If your system is older than these, I pity you! :)

    I find that email is the number 1 cause of viruses for me. If you are careful with attachments, you should be in pretty good shape.

    A firewall will prevent the activity of worm/trojan type stuff but will do nothing to prevent viruses from entering and corrupting your system.

    On online scan (http://housecall.trendmicro.com/) is a good idea.

    "An ouce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." :rolleyes:
     
  4. JimIT

    JimIT Registered Member

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    Two great posts. Karma for both of ye.

    :cool:

    My personal opinion is that an AV is necessary for a couple of things: E-mail and browser. I don't trust either of those in a Windows environment, no matter what browser it is, or what e-mail client it is. There are too many bugs coming out too fast that attack the "hole du jour". ;)

    Just my opinion. ;)
     
  5. kloshar

    kloshar Registered Member

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    Ailric:
    Heeey, he isn't asking for an antivirus program. Both of them just want to say, that if you are careful, antivirus is no necessary.
     
  6. meneer

    meneer Registered Member

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    I'm afraid I can and can't really agree :doubt:
    Last couple of years our systems were affected by Klez-H and Blaster (minor, isolated incidents, but we were hit). Infection was not prevented by anti-virus software. Well, not quite, the first infection, compromising the windows box was not prevented. Our antivirus software did prevent the infection of the filesystem, and thereby, the infection of the systems.

    Klez entered our systems though a hole in Internet explorer. It compromised the browser address space, and that, being managed by the Windows OS, resulted in the droppping of a trojan on the file system. That, the file I/O, was handled by our AV scanner, so in fact preventing further infection.
    Blaster also invaded unpatched Windows systems, unnoticed by the av-scanner. But the copying of the msblast.exe program to the hard disk was detected and prevented by our av-scanner.

    What's the lesson that we can learn:
    Both infections were caused by not patching the systems. Klez entered through an unsafe Internet Explorer, Blaster through an unpatched Windows OS.

    It's been said often here: use layered protection. And that's not only using the right, complementary trools, but also: managing your system (PATCHING FREQUENTLY) and managing your users.

    So, if you can vouch for your users (or for yourself) and know that your infrastructure is safe (patched or ..... little microsoft dare I say...?) AV is not the most important security measure. But if these standards are not met, please be carefull out there :eek:
     
  7. nameless

    nameless Registered Member

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    That's not true. A (correctly-configured) firewall would have saved all the people who became infected with Blaster, and the other worms of its type. And if you don't do stupid things with email attachments, you are in really good shape.

    Either that, or I've been really, really damn lucky for the past seven years.
     
  8. bigc73542

    bigc73542 Retired Moderator

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    In my opinion you have been damn lucky period.
     
  9. nameless

    nameless Registered Member

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    No, it hasn't been luck. I don't do careless things, that's all. Malware activation is not inevitable.

    BTW, I do use anti-virus utilities; I wasn't saying I don't.
     
  10. Ailric

    Ailric Guest

    kloshar:

    I'm not trying to sell him an antivirus, I'm just trying to give him an alternative to not running one. He stated the reason for not running antivirus software was because he had an older machine and it slowed it down too much. F-Prot for Windows uses about as much resources as notepad.

    AVG (http:/www.grisoft.com) is a good and free alternative... it's much better than nothing. A program like Total Unistall (http://www.snapfiles.com/get/totaluninstall.html) is a good idea if you wish to try out different virus software, then remove them completely after.

    You should update Windows with all the necessary patches. Spyware programs are good (Ad-Aware, Spybot, Spywareblaster). Pay attention to you startup programs in case anything new and unwanted shows up.

    Installing an antivirus is much better than the alternative...

    Format C: :'(
     
  11. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

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    If you are truly knowledgeable and careful as nameless surely is... I can see a couple ways around the constant resident AV protection. I would always recommend an antivirus, but if it really is slowing you down there would be a couple things you could do. Trend Micro's Housecall scan is a good way to find out if you have a problem (though not likely to clean it for you) and it's just a free online scan. As others mentioned here, a free AV like AVG or Avast! without resident protection would be nice (remember to run a system scan pretty often, I would think).
     
  12. rerun2

    rerun2 Registered Member

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    In making your decision you may also want to consider the type of data on your computer. And whether or not it will matter if this data was lost or compromised in a malware infection.

    There have been many good suggestions on this thread and I wouldl just like to emphasize the point of having a well patched OS and a properly configured firewall.

    I was also one of those people who have been lucky enough to not have been infected for a long period of time. However, when I put a fresh install of Win2k (unpatched and unfirewalled) on the internet w/DSL; in a matter of minutes I was infected. It was not from downloading dangerous files, email, or anything else. It was simply from being online (I was even idle for half of the time i was online, which in my case was probably 2 minutes ;) ).

    mslaugh.exe - Win32.HLLW.LoveSan.Based
    winhlpp32.exe - Win32.HLLW.Agobot
    WksPatch[1].exe - Win32.HLLW.LoveSan.4

    not to mention an infected svchost file.

    So I am definitely a firm believer in having at leasta firewall and a patched system as your first line of defense.
     
  13. Detox

    Detox Retired Moderator

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    Indeed; I should have said that in my previous post; there is no circumstance under which I would go online without a good firewall (Sygate for me - though there are several other good choices).
     
  14. Valkyri001

    Valkyri001 Registered Member

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    Pacifist, I used to almost agree with you. Many years ago when I had a blazing 12200 modem I got my first virus, 80 meg HDD down the drain. AV in the most part is for after the fact, if it doesn't know what its looking for it can't stop it. three years ago I lost my second HDD to a Marysomething, The new heuristic scanning I hope will keep this from ever happening again. It has been my experience though that AV's never protected me, as I got hit by bugs that weren't on the menu.
    I still use AV's because it just makes sense that if your going to go out you at least need to put your shorts on.
     
  15. nameless

    nameless Registered Member

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    You bring up a good point. You can get infected without doing anything outwardly "stupid".

    Whenever you install Windows (or any OS, for that matter), you should have the patches downloaded and available on local media beforehand, and then install while disconnected from the Internet. This is very easy to overlook, especially when you are anxious to get things up and running.

    It's really pathetic that you have to worry about every little thing like that. I'd like to personally murder every malware author in the world, but I can't do it alone. ;)

    Edit: I forgot to add that I've read (only read; not experienced) that Blaster can infect WinXP systems even with the built-in firewall activated. That couple of seconds during boot between when TCP/IP comes up, and the firewall loads, can be enough, apparently. Encouraging, no? :p
     
  16. mrtwolman

    mrtwolman Eset Staff Account

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    I agree there are some people inteligent enough not to be forced to use antivirus program. But as we all know, in the universum, there are only two "things" present everywhere. Hydrogen and human stupidity. Therefore most humans are in need on some antivirus solution.
     
  17. MikeBCda

    MikeBCda Registered Member

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    One thing we seemed to have missed here (or maybe I just missed it in the thread) -- anyone who's been around computers enough years might still remember when one of the major commercial software companies (Lotus? Ashton-Tate?) accidentially got a "master" of one of their popular titles infected, and distributed thousands of infected copies to their customers.

    So even still-sealed-from-the-factory is no guarantee -- and all the luck and care in the world won't help you in a case like that.

    I'll stick with my a-v religiously, thanks all the same.
     
  18. nameless

    nameless Registered Member

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    It happens so very rarely, you can't remember what company or what software it was. And in this day and age of heightened awareness, I'd really be shocked to see it happen.

    I'm not trying to convince you to dump your AV utility; just pointing out that that is a really lame reason. The original issue brought up in this thread was the performance hit that AV utilities bring. Keep your warm-fuzzy AV utility, and the penalties that go along with it.
     
  19. Valkyri001

    Valkyri001 Registered Member

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    :)Everyone here has brought up very good reasons why to have it handy, when I'm working on my machine and not on-line I don't use AV's. Like you say, give up performance. I've not had the oppurtunity to purchase an infected program, I do remember that happening to Lotus stuff. I was using Wordperfect back then.
    I still hold that I'd like to have as much protection as I could get. If you get online today without it, I don't believe you'll last ten minutes. IMHO :)
     
  20. nameless

    nameless Registered Member

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    Well, again, I've been online for over 7 years, and not a single problem so far, and I am an absolute download and online fanatic. Dire predictions like that amount to falling into the hands of AV vendor marketing as far as I am concerned. I'm not saying there aren't threats out there.

    Everyone is taking this as a strictly "AV or no AV?" question. That's not it. The real question is, "Is the trade-off worth it?" And notwithstanding ominous warnings about utter, unmitigable doom, there is no clear-cut answer.

    That's why I mentioned the "trolling" aspect of the original post in my very first response to it.
     
  21. JimIT

    JimIT Registered Member

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    nameless,

    I have to say that I enjoy your posts very much. They are thought-provoking, and although I don't always agree with them, they raise interesting questions! ;)

    For me--and the "average" users I deal with--the answer is "Yes. The resource hit is worth the added protection." I'm only speaking for the "average" users I deal with. No question that the "peace of mind" (HA!) is worth the load.

    That's not applicable for everybody, however.

    On a related note: I am presenting a client with a $70 bill this afternoon for Klez.H removal and a rebuild of his W98 registry last night. Another download/e-mail fanatic. Did he or his wife or his 10 year old do something "stupid"?

    Almost certainly.

    Could he have saved ~$50 bucks by having an up to date AV installed? Almost certainly.

    Take that for what it's worth--(ie: Add $.75 and you might be able to get a cup of coffee.) :D
     
  22. JayK

    JayK Poster

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    I fully agree with Nameless. If I didn't know better, I was "nameless", since our experiences in terms of internet habits, surfing history time etc are so similar :)

    Still Someone is probably going to whip out some link , showing that without a resident virus program, you can be caught, because even AVs with the best unpackers can't catch everything.
     
  23. Trans

    Trans Registered Member

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    Just to remind something already said :
    There are some antivirus progs that have a small footprint and don't ,usually, bother you much.
    If you have to use an AV use one of them.
    I have found after many trials that DrWeb , F-Prot
    (and from freebies AVG) are some of this kind :)
     
  24. se7engreen

    se7engreen Registered Member

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    Personally, as long as I have the system resources, I will have an AV in memory. If you truely don't have the resources, an on-demand scanner/disinfection program would be ideal. BitDefender is the only free one I know of. http://www.bitdefender.com/bd/site/products.php

    About whether an AV is needed at all, all I can say is even if you're carefull infections are still possible. Although in my experience, I'd say about 97% of infections are due to bad judgement by the end user.
     
  25. bandonisp

    bandonisp Registered Member

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    First I have enjoyed reading this thread. Questiono_O I am on a dial up connection running 98 Second edition. If you have a good firewall( I am running Sygate) and NEVER open attachments. How do most Viruses get into our computers? Do we get them by just being on the Internet?
    I never open attachments!!! If I have a good firewall and never go on the Internet without a Firewall and use common sense on downloads!!!! Where am I going to get a viruseso_Oo_O?
    One thing I do know since I got all malware out of my computer it is amazing how well my PC runs. I am not a tech, But I do get in front of a lot of computers. I market a dial up connection and go to the computer and make the connection. Have connected 110 computers. These are just common folk using the computer. 90% of the Computers are efffected with malware. I want to say that this forum has really helped me. Again 90% of the computers are HighJacked. What I am saying the computer does what it wants to do and they are just there for the ride. Thanks forum for letting me give there PC back!!!!!!!!!!
    I have been shutting down start programs and have help there computer, BUT since I have been taking the SpyWare out, What a difference. Because of this forum I have been giving there PC back to them. Thanks all here at the forum. You have been a life saver!!!!
     
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