back to article Anti-virus skulduggery - upgrade licence clock shock slammed

Anti-virus vendors AVG and Symantec have been criticised for sharp practices in selling consumer antivirus upgrades. Every year security vendors bring out new versions of their products with improved engines and better technologies (behaviour blocking, improved speed performance and cloud-based-detection, for example). …


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  1. Number6

    Well Hidden

    If they do warn about this then it's well hidden because I got caught by it a few years ago, losing out on some time. The following year I just didn't bother to renew and switched to a different supplier.

  2. Bilgepipe


    "Symantec gives customers the option of renewing their Norton product subscriptions or purchasing upgrade products containing additional security features; furthermore, we cancel any remaining subscription for the previous product if the customer chooses to upgrade, thereby bringing in more money from them and taking away something they have legitimately purchased."

    There, fixed it for them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why pay for antivirus?

    MSE seems to do just fine and gains high marks in independent reviews.

    1. asdf

      because the AV company share hoiders say so

      Besides MSE is way too non-intrusive, doesn't eat up near enough cpu cycles and doesn't permanently bugger up the OS so its nearly impossible to remove. No thanks I will keep shoveling $ Symantecs way thank you so the popups stop for another year.

      1. leexgx


        you must be thinking of norton 2008 or older products or norton 360 2.0 or older that was very bad on the system speed (they rebuilt the code form ground up in 2009 and 360 3.0 is basically 2009 and 4.0 is 2010 code)

        i use Norton NAV on all of my customer pcs its install time is less then 20-30 secs and it does not annoy the user unless the system needs an reboot mem use is low and it works in Low end systems with little ram, also more so i can renew it my self after the year ends as i service there pc at the same time, so it benefits me as well if i used AVG or MSE i mite not see them for years (unless they got an virus that MSE or AVG or even norton in some cases mite of missed)

        probably get down-rated but used AVG for years every version that comes out uses more ram then the last (currently around 200-250mb take note that when AVG is installed 100mb jump on the system process under task manager that is norm less then 2mb) i use what works and does not bug users and little impact to system speed (avg can peg the cpu out when files are been accessed norton norm uses little cpu) the Worst one is kaspersky that really requires your to have an dual or tri core or higher as it tends to max an cpu core out when files are been accessed, very bad on single core systems

        1. Hans 1

          Utter BS

          I know Norton pretty well, I worked there.

          Whatever you do, DO NOT INSTALL NORTON, or McAfee for that matter .... both utter crap. If you want a localized version of an anti-virus (French, German, Dutch ...), buy anything except Norton - localized Norton builds are pre-Gold (Beta software!) and they do not get tested properly. All because @Norton, they prefer to ship to manufacturing a day earlier ... idiots!

          Antivirus upgrades bring absolutely NOTHING qua improved protection, that is just marketing - I am really surprised el reg got caught, too. up-to-date virus definitions is all you really need.

          An up-to-date anti virus has a chance in a million to miss a virus, you must be really unlucky to catch one, as it means you are among the first thousands - or too silly to use a Windows computer.

          @leexgx When you mention tri core it says it all, matey ... have to take a+ exam, methinks!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise

    Who is stupid enough to use Symantec for anything? They buy in decent products and turn it into scareware bloat. No exceptions. Ghost, AtGuard, Norton etc etc. All turned into bloatware with scareware features - OMG we blocked a "probe" on port 139. We've updated your filters with more scareware shite. Why? Hell not even MS came out with crap like Symantec did, who the hell needs to know some random moron is probing netbios ports - wankers.

    AVG is just a recurring accident. Only possible excuse for using it is because you got sucked into it because it used to be free. If you're still using it then you only have yourself to blame.

    NOD32 email you about 4 weeks before the AV is due to expire - update before expiry you get a discount (not much) but license is just extended to the same day next year. I think I paid £150 or so this year for 5 machines x 3 year sub (£10 per machine/year rings a bell).

    I have kids in school so AV isn't optional - its necessary. I used KAV for years then that went all fluffy and bloaty, Sophos is expensive for a few home machines.....

    1. Nick Wallis

      Kids in school

      > I have kids in school so AV isn't optional - its necessary.

      Bullsh*t. Give 'em Ubuntu and a lesson in when to use the password (or even better don't put them in the sudo list)

      And don't give me any arguments about it being too complicated for them. Too hard to understand for their dinosaur teachers maybe, but not for the kids.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Me for one

    I've had enough of AVG. Strangely though, I don't feel like going with Symantec either. Heck, it was not bad enough that I have to fear the malware writers, now I have to worry about anti-virus writers too. It's becoming depressingly insane.

  6. Ged T

    No matter what Symantec/Norton say...

    ... it has been my experience that you never get the full subscription period out of their products.

    When pushed in the way that would make even the most hardened of MalWare Merchants blush, most Sym/NOD users will install the next version of the product, by way of renewing their subscription, simply to stop the scarry messages. Those messages are implemented in such a way as to more than suggest that your machine is about to be left wide open to infection unless you renew now...

    Racketering is alive a well in the 21st Centrury - It's known, collectively, as the AV Community...

  7. banjomike

    The trick with Kaspersky

    is to buy the upgrade when it is cheapest but not apply it until a week or so before the old licence expires. Not a problem to do and presumably something that might apply to other AV suppliers.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Symantec is shite

    Last time I had their crap product on a machine was years ago. I was foolish enough to update for a year and a month later they updated their product and killed itself. Their solution: try (that's the key word) to uninstall it and reinstall it. That's their solution for everything. Unfortunately, if you are foolish enough to believe that you've never had to remove the mess of unidentified registry entries of theirs and the files they leave splattered all over your system.

    My solution: a new system that never ever let their crap product on it. Result: no more problems.

  9. Billa Bong

    Big-Mac-affy is just as bad

    I got stung by them a few years ago after a subscription which came with my old Dell expired - rather than allowing me to renew it my only option was to take out a "new" license (for the same product), which of course didn't carry the previous deadline over.

    I got that sorted by a very angry phone call to them. Last year they tried to sting me for something else. I deliberately contacted them at renewal time only to be force fed a 3 seat license at £30 extra instead of my existing 1seat.

    "I'm sorry", said I, "I only have one PC at home, so I only need 1 seat."

    "Don't worry, you can install it on 2 other machines!", said they.

    "You'll be buying the machines for me then, will you?", asked I.

    "Err... but with a 3 seat license you can install it on 3 machines", said they

    (Cue recursion exercise).

    My conclusion: AV vendors are like petrol stations - they *know* you need them. AV vendors think that gives them the right to deliberately mislead or add stuff you don't need and charge you extra.

    I'm still waiting for AV vendors to classify other AV vendors software as crapware.

  10. Richard 120
    Thumb Up


    Go open source

    1. asdf

      so damn slow to scan and forget real time protection

      Good scanner once you know you have problem and don't mind a 16 hour scan but otherwise see title. Do like its open source and use it as backup scanner on my boxes, however (for the especially dodgy warez, jk).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not up to it

        I think it was setup to scan emails on a mail server. These days for windows machines you have got to go through the registry, preferably offline. A file fingerprint based system like clamav is just not designed for it. There are literally about a hundered different types of places to stuff something in the registry to get exploit code running. To make things even more difficult, items are loaded asynchronsly ie. The order of items loading varies. To remove viruses, you need to scan the registry offline. To stop viruses in the first place, you need somehting that protects those registry entries.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Could just use Linux or MacOSX to ...

    Break this AV racket chain once and for all!

    1. Anonymous Bastard
      Thumb Up


      Even though it's a tired cliche someone had to stick up for the penguins.

    2. Chris 3

      I've just installed the free Sophos A/V on my Mac

      Belt & braces and all that. So far, it seems harmless, and uses few resources. I suppose it may save me from something one day.

    3. Wize

      The only reason we have more viruses for Windows machines... because they are more popular.

      If everyone moved to Linux or Macs, so would the virus writers.

      I would love to hear the screams the day the virus writers move over. But then, you'd never know you were infected with out a virus scanner...

  12. Neal 5

    @Could just use Linux or MacOSX to ...

    or the piratebay

    1. Richard 120

      yeah piratebay

      because you'd never pick up a virus from warez </sarcasm>

  13. dubno

    no need to worry...

    Symantec gets uninstalled as a matter of course so don't care how they screw over their "customers".

    AVG needn't concern themselves either with trying to fool us any longer - their crapware is being replaced at every one of our customers sites by the far more effective and free, MSE.

    The sooner these parasites go out of business the better.

  14. AVG Technologies

    AVG Clarifies Information in Which? Report on Billing Practices

    This is AVG Technologies,

    AVG today spoke with representatives of Which? Computing to clarify concerns raised by a recent Which? Computing report claiming consumers who updated early were essentially double charged for the period between the actual renewal date and the required renewal date.

    The confusion is the result of incorrect data that was provided to Which? Computing by AVG. AVG regrets the confusion this has caused for our customers.

    The Which? report states incorrectly that customers of the paid-for version of AVG could lose time on their existing subscription when renewing prior to the expiration date.

    If a customer renews an AVG product at any point before expiry, the start date of the renewal is only from the original expiry date, and this has always been AVG’s position.

    While AVG’s position on renewals confirms that the system already in place is the correct one, the Which? Computing report does highlight consumer uncertainty around renewals for our paid-for version and we are grateful for them in doing this. AVG is taking steps to ensure that it is entirely clear that product renewals ahead of the expiry date start from the original expiry date and not before.

    AVG has been offering a market-leading free product to millions of customers for more than 10 years. The company’s mission has long been to provide customers with high end security tools at no charge. The majority of AVG customers use our product for free, and this allows them to try a very robust anti-virus product without ever having to make a purchase.

  15. ArkhamNative

    Another skullduggery? Tsk...

    I thought this was going to be about another Symantec practice: Every year Symantec offers to let its antivirus customers conveniently renew online. The problem: it's routinely £10-£20 *more* than buying a retail box at PC World or other retailers, which often offer free shipping.

  16. JeffyPooh

    Just Google "Symantec Sucks"

    Symantec's AV products have repeatedly proven themselves to be worse than awful. When I switched to AVG, everything just calmed down and (almost always) worked smoothly. As opposed to the 'Symantec AV As A Hobby Itself' fiasco.

    I've since switched from very nice AVG to apparently slightly better MS Security Essentials, and that's perfectly zero effort and zero annoyance. And free as in beer. Highly recommended.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge


      It's not bad anti-virus, but the problem with MSE is that it doesn't do a lot of the very useful things that goog commercial products do. Virus's and other malware are not particularly high on the threat scale these days. Rely, if you will, on simple AV but don't be too upset if you are had by the black hats some time soon.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Upgrade vs. Renewal

    I do see Symantec's point to a certain extent. A product upgrade does indeed differ from a licence renewal. However I've had a look for their warnings and they are far from obvious, what's wrong with a popup before you pay for the upgrade saying "Warning! If you upgrade your product now you will lose the outstanding licence period on you existing product."

    They're not exactly being dishonest, they're just not entirely honest either.

    How about refunding your remaining licence period on the old software against the purchase of the new?

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


      The politicians lie.... They don't lie to you, they just don't tell the truth

  18. Matt 53

    I thought it was my imagination

    But it seems that if you renew early, or pay before the end of a 'free' trial, you lose that remaining entitlement. Not exactly free or fair, is it?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finns do it better

    F-Secure has a bit different approach.

    They sell license time, not only you get all days you paid for.

    Also you are free to use latest version available, no matter what box you bought.

    I have been scouring bargain bins for two year old packs for tenner for years.

    And the codes work fine for latest versions

  20. Anonymous Coward

    PAY for AV?

    really. do people still pay for these piles of bloatware and protection rackets?

    <paranoid>I still believe that half of all viruses/worms are written and released by AV vendors</paranoid>

    nah, there are free AV solutions for most computer platforms...and if you practice safe

    computing and keep your software patched, dont visit random dodgy sites...dont use software

    cracked/hacked downloaded from piratebay etc then you're far less likely to need/worry about AV

    most of the bad guys are now targetting your broadband routers now anyway....and your AV on the PC wont pick up that sort of attack or infection.

  21. BozNZ

    Tin-Foil HAt

    I still believe most of the anti-virus companies are secretly the virus companies.. What a business model!

    I've not used anti-virus in 5 years on my business machine, its not that hard, use firefox with noscript and flashblock, use a VM for any other sites that use flash, use a non-microsoft email client and aggressively reject emails, there is no harm in previewing the really authentic looking ones (most do not show remote content by default), just obviously never open attachments. And monitor the processes running aggressively. Nothing in my firewall is open to connect in and I even have the upgrade service off.

    I am an independent programmer In the last 5 years exactly IT manager would not allow me to connect to his network (he had a network sandpit for those they did not trust) but most dont ask

    Wake up world, Virus spreading is caused by user ignorance, bad configuration and FUD, the best AV systems catch a max of 95% of viruses in tests its the other 5% you should probably worry about.

    In 2003 I wrote a program called anti-virus.exe and attached it to an email to be sent to all users on a large corporate network, we faked the user id with a really bad name from an east European host and the spelling was deliberately bad. On executing the exe we popped up a message saying it was a test and and monitored how many opened it, 14% did and this was after the IT department had finished its round of security training, if we'd have called it sex.exe I guess you could have doubled that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      I wish I had a dollar

      "I still believe most of the anti-virus companies are secretly the virus companies.. What a business model!"

      If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this moronic bullshit, I'd have at least $1000.

      Talk about FUD

  22. Tom 13

    Re: customers ... not informed that any time

    So then, the notice is clearly listed at the end of the T&As? Nobody reads the T&As.

    I never saw the notice when I was renewing/upgrading the copy of Norton that came on the parental units' PC.

  23. Hans 1

    The real reason why Norton steals time

    They cannot add up 1 and 1 ...

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