"Avast blocks the entire internet – again - Now that's cast-iron antivirus"
The first computer virus I ever got infected with was off a 3.5" floppy - just saying :-)
An Avast software update pushed out on Wednesday is preventing web access for at least some devices running the firm's freebie anti-malware software. Users affected by the problem have started threads (here and here among others) on Avast's support forum. El Reg learnt of the issue through reader Michael S. "Non tech savvy …
Same here. I cannot recall which virus it was but it had a detonation date to wipe everything, was adding stuff to all MS-DOS .EXE and .COM files and spreading as floppies were passed between sites. At the time 'getting infected' seemed mostly a myth, few knew of anyone who had been.
I was the lucky bugger who got to check every floppy in the company; hundreds. And, as Sod's Law would have it, it was the last one in the box which was the source for the original infection; a Driver Disk shipped with some peripheral equipment we had purchased.
That was in the Good Old Days (TM) when Scotland Yard had a Computer Forensics Division one was encouraged to report infections to. Then, as now, nothing seemed to come of it when one did.
@Mark 110 - chances are the 1st antivirus I ever had was Avast as it is probably the oldest one I've ever used. This is certainly the most serious issue I've ever heard of in regard to Alwil's fine free software. I've not heard reports from any of my clients. However I have had to use the "Avast clear" tool to get new versions of Avast to work properly, so it is not perfect. At least it doesn't blow up peoples computers like so many of the other brands out there.
To my best knowledge G-Data was the very 1st anti-virus, and probably wasn't called that in its inception. I believe Atari may have been the company that developed it.
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I just received an email from the not-too-distant future. I reads:
> It's unclear how widespread the problem is.
Avast has been receiving reports that a very small percentage of our users are affected by a minor issue today.
> Avast's PR reps have acknowledged our requests for comment but are yet to supply a substantive response.
The security of our users and their equipment is very important to us. We're sorry that you can't access the web any more. To fix this problem, please visit our knowledgebase at http://....
speculative future PR guff from Avast: "...Avast has been receiving reports that a very small percentage of our users are affected by a minor issue today...."
Though to be fair, it sounds as if only a small proportion of their userbase will be able to report their problems
I was working as a contractor and used to get in at 7am on a Monday to avoid the traffic.
Went to login to my allocated e-mail PC and got a "you must change your password now" message. Several attempts later I was still being told to change it and there was no way to bypass, so I waited for the support desk to open at 8:30.
I explained the problem and was asked "didn't you get the e-mail telling you to ignore the message?". I replied that I was not able to get past the message to get to my e-mail. "Oh, it's going to be a busy morning" came the reply...
I can go one better ...
A supplier had their emergency operating plan stored securely on-site, in a fire-safe.
Unfortunately, the emergency that happened was a murder in the business park meaning the police cordoned off all the offices and refused to let anyone in....
Stories like this are why a lot of truly important information is stored behind me, on paper, in big three-ring binders.
So much of the Internet, much less "the Cloud," seems to be a house of cards, built on sand, over an earthquake fault line.
Sooner or later, through malice or incompetence, the day will come when the whole thing comes crashing down.
Losing LastPass will be the least of your problems.
Hmm, already saw a user earlier who's personal phone wasn't letting them connect to wifi with Avast for Android on. No internet over 4G either.
I am wondering if the issue is related (As its a personal phone I didn't want to go about removing their security software)
and you need to get the fix from the intertubes. Hello sneaker net!
That was how I did my first linux install (slackware 0.99pl15) - where I worked had no internet and my access at home was.. intermittent.
So a friend of mine, who worked somewhere where they had a t1 connected to internet, downloaded all the slackware floppy images and wrote them to a stack of floppies I supplied.
As I discovered during the install, there was a reason why those floppies were being thrown out - random read errors due to utterly crap quality control.
So I'd be doing the install and on floppy 5 I'd get lots of "unable to read disc" errors. So I'd give my friend a few more floppies and ask him to write that floppy image to a few discs.
Eventually the install completed after about a week. And then (after a night spent setting everything up, including modem dial-on-demand) I managed to type rm -rf in the wrong place and had to start again.
But at least this time I had a set of usable discs.
Avast is such buggy garbage. 5 years ago it was fine, now it is too much hassle to be worth the minor protective it provides.
Also, when they say "uninstall Avast", make sure to use the Avast cleaner application after. You can't trust its own uninstaller these days.
You report in the story that
==> An Avast update pushed out six years ago classified the whole web as malign, as we reported at the time.
This could not be. I did not see the story then. I distinctly remember trying to read El Reg that day, but I couldn't, because I couldn't reach the inte--
Form for this sort of thing too:
"Avast – another anti-virus big-hitter – recently announced plans to make use of anonymised user data to develop marketing analytics through a spin-off called Jumpshot. This is not quite the same thing as what AVG is doing – not least because it doesn’t involve third-party ad brokers – but it might still be seen as moving in the same direction of travel of monetising users’ data as as way of offsetting flat or declining anti-malware software sales."
Despite the headline it seems this only effected a VERY small number of users who after a reinstall have sorted out their problem. I have been using the latest version for the past week and have absolutely no issues (but I don't use their web shield). Maybe El Reg should check their facts before producing articles like this.
That reminds me of the time Norton sent out an unsigned update and when everyone tried to report it on the Norton forum the forum blocked the messages as spam. So many people affected that it must be spam. When people saw their messages being deleted they became alarmed. Further investigation reveled Norton was connecting to a dodgy server in South Africa. Meanwhile Norton are telling people that only a few people are having the problem,
So it's not all bad news then. Give them a gold star if you've sat about waiting for Microsoft to download some more bloatware, reboot and then wait some more to log in while they do more of their butchering of your device.
Perhaps we can get Avast to block all those other sites that harvest our information to share with spammers and con artists when they leave the database on a taxi seat.
Microsoft is extending the Defender brand with a version aimed at families and individuals.
"Defender" has been the company's name of choice for its anti-malware platform for years. Microsoft Defender for individuals, available for Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers, is a cross-platform application, encompassing macOS, iOS, and Android devices and extending "the protection already built into Windows Security beyond your PC."
The system comprises a dashboard showing the status of linked devices as well as alerts and suggestions.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) merger inquiry into NortonLifeLock's proposed $8bn acquisition of rival antivirus provider Avast has now closed, with the regulator concluding that a tie-up could indeed reduce competition in the marketplace.
"Advanced discussions" concerning a merger of the two security vendors first surfaced in July 2021, when NortonLifeLock investors were told that a combination with Avast "would bring together two companies with aligned visions, highly complementary business profiles and a joint commitment to innovation that helps protect and empower people to live their digital lives safely."
By August, a deal had been agreed where NortonLifeLock would acquire all Avast shares for $8bn followed by the combined companies listing on NASDAQ.
Microsoft has made a standalone version of Microsoft Defender for Business generally available, aimed at customers not keen on paying for one of its subscriptions.
The product is already bundled with Microsoft 365 Business Premium (for businesses with up to 300 employees) but can now be picked up as a standalone product for $3 per user per month, as we reported from Ignite late last year.
Microsoft currently has four tiers of 365 subscriptions, starting at Business Basic (which includes the web versions of the company's productivity apps) for $6, going up to the full-fat premium version for $22 per user per month, with desktop versions of Office apps.
Germany's BSI federal cybersecurity agency has warned the country's citizens not to install Russian-owned Kaspersky antivirus, saying it has "doubts about the reliability of the manufacturer."
Russia-based Kaspersky has long been a target of suspicious rumors in the West over its ownership and allegiance to Russia's rulers.
In an advisory published today, the agency said: "The BSI recommends replacing applications from Kaspersky's virus protection software portfolio with alternative products."
Germany-based security biz Avira's antivirus has enabled a new feature: "Avira Crypto". It's opt-in, but if you click "yes", the AV will use your computer to mine Ethereum.
Opinion Game knows game. Thus it came as little surprise that Norton's consumer security software not only sprouted a cryptominer that slurps your computer's life essence and skims a cut, but that it's hard to turn it off.
A marriage not made in heaven but the other place: consumer-grade antivirus software has always had an uneven reputation, much of which it richly deserves. But how did we come to carry such a high parasitical load in 2022?
Some of this is technical. Early generations of PC malware established standard techniques to propagate and protect themselves. Rootkit methods were common, monitoring and modifying operating system calls to defect target files and infect them, and to deflect scans or probes by returning false information. This means sinking hooks into the operating system at its lowest levels and taking control – which is precisely the same techniques early AV software used to detect and nullify viruses while defending itself from attacks in turn.
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has invited comments from industry and interested parties about NortonLifeLock's proposed $8bn purchase of fellow infosec outfit Avast.
The merger inquiry will run until the 16 March when the comments will be collated and assessed to determine if there is sufficient concern to warrant a deeper investigation.
"The CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002," it said.
Updated Norton antivirus's inbuilt cryptominer has re-entered the public consciousness after a random Twitter bod expressed annoyance at how difficult it is to uninstall.
The addition of Ncrypt.exe, Norton 360's signed cryptocurrency-mining binary, to installations of Norton antivirus isn't new – but it seems to have taken the non-techie world a few months to realise what's going on.
Back in June, NortonLifeLock, owner of the unloved PC antivirus product, declared it was offering Ethereum mining as part of its antivirus suite. NortonLifeLock's pitch, as we reported, was that people dabbling in cryptocurrency mining probably weren't paying attention to security – so what better way than to take up a cryptocurrency miner than installing one from a trusted consumer security brand?
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has unveiled compliance principles to curb locally some of the sharper auto-renewal practices of antivirus software firms.
The CMA took exception to auto-renewal contracts for antivirus software that customers in the UK signed up for and found difficult to cancel. Refunds and clearer pricing information (including making sure consumers were aware that year two could well end up considerably costlier than the first) were the order of the day.
NortonLifeLock, the somewhat clunky moniker adopted by the former consumer business arm of the Symantec Corporation, has announced "advanced discussions" with rival Avast over a possible merger.
"A combination of NortonLifeLock and Avast would bring together two companies with aligned visions, highly complementary business profiles and a joint commitment to innovation that helps protect and empower people to live their digital lives safely," a NortonLifeLock spokesperson claimed in a message to investors.
"We would draw on the best of both companies to ensure that the combination would benefit our customers, reward our employees and maximise long term value for all shareholders."
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