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Windows 7: If your PC picks up a virus, whose fault is it?

07 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 16 MATE (64 bit)
 
 
If your PC picks up a virus, whose fault is it?

Here is a an article by Ed Bott about Windows PC infections.

Quote:
Summary: Want to avoid being attacked by viruses and other malware? Two recent studies reveal the secret: regular patching. A fully patched system with a firewall enabled offers almost complete protection against drive-by attacks and outside intruders.
Here is the article link:
If your PC picks up a virus, whose fault is it? | ZDNet

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Oct 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 / OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8
 
 

I agree with some of that but not entirely. Patching is limited to what the software manufacturers have available for installation. If there's no patch to address an issue, what is there for a user to do other than switching products?

Many types of malware can get on a PC due to how it has many vectors to approach the OS without involving the UAC and DEP, which is a problem with current Windows products. Assuming the problem is OS related, a user can't fix a hole Microsoft has no solution for.

The same goes for browsers, drive-by attacks are based on the nature of how it intends on getting onto your machine. Even Mac users aren't immune to Trojans, which if engineered properly can fool the user to do something to allow malware to get onto their machines. In this situation my argument is the risk is primarily involving the user being either careless or simply lacking skills in managing/mitigating risky computing practices. The user will always be the biggest threat on any machine.

Viruses as we know it do have a problem with how it's controlled through AV software. An AV product can't detect something it doesn't "know", even Heuristics aren't a 100% solution as you start running into other problems associated with false positives.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2011   #3

 

This is why I update as soon as they're available.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Oct 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 16 MATE (64 bit)
 
 

The test results seem fairly startling though.

They would seem to indicate that you are fairly safe, if:
  • You keep your OS patched.
  • Keep your firewall up (even the default Windows one).
  • You don't install Adobe software or Java.
37 percent of users browsing the Web with insecure Java versions
37 percent of users browsing the Web with insecure Java versions | ZDNet

Everything else (AM and AV software) is just protects you against things, you deliberately download.

It seems that Internet "Drive-bys" are just as likely to happen to you as real ones.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2011   #5

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by lehnerus2000 View Post
The test results seem fairly startling though.

They would seem to indicate that you are fairly safe, if:
  • You keep your OS patched.
  • Keep your firewall up (even the default Windows one).
  • You don't install Adobe software or Java.
37 percent of users browsing the Web with insecure Java versions
37 percent of users browsing the Web with insecure Java versions | ZDNet

Everything else (AM and AV software) is just protects you against things, you deliberately download.

It seems that Internet "Drive-bys" are just as likely to happen to you as real ones.

I'm another who doesn't have Adobe, using Foxit instead, and who doesn't have Java installed - can only think of a few sites that I can't access and there are usually alternatives. Apart from the security aspect it also seemed to slow my browsing.

I always install the latest OS updates and same for Anti-Virus (NIS) but perhaps SpywareBlaster also helps. I get very few pop-ups and so far all malware has been caught before any kind of infection. I used much the same on my XP system for more than a decade and even though I run as administrator (and with Win 7 with UAC disabled) have never had an infection. Perhaps one of the reasons is that if I want some free software I am careful as to where I download it and try to review it carefully beforehand. I also don't use P2P or download questionable stuff from Newsgroups and never open attachments from email sources I do not know. I do make images of the OS regularly and rely on these to recover from most problems - which they have done successfully for almost every problem I have ever had.

I would not recommend that others run as administrator or with UAC disabled as I do understand the risks but for me the convenience just has more benefits.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2011   #6

W7 X-64 RTM,SUSE 11.1, XP PRO SP3 as a VM, VMware ESXi
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by lehnerus2000 View Post
The test results seem fairly startling though.

They would seem to indicate that you are fairly safe, if:
  • You keep your OS patched.
  • Keep your firewall up (even the default Windows one).
  • You don't install Adobe software or Java.
37 percent of users browsing the Web with insecure Java versions
37 percent of users browsing the Web with insecure Java versions | ZDNet

Everything else (AM and AV software) is just protects you against things, you deliberately download.

It seems that Internet "Drive-bys" are just as likely to happen to you as real ones.

Hi there
I see you have a particular "Grudge" against adobe.

Adobe Photoshop (CS5 / CS5.5) is EXTENSIVELY used by Professional Photographers almost exclusively compared to any other digital imaging program and most of them NEVER have problems with computer Viruses.

Infected computers are IMO 100% the responsibility of the USER -- it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to get a virus doing "Normal" online activities and taking reasonable care.

I've used computers probably since before a lot of members on this Forum were even born and NEVER had an attack.

Most AV software doesn't really defend against really insidious attacks such as root-kits, drive by real time infections, super user type privileges etc etc and running a scan AFTER the fact won't really tell you much - it will say your computer might be infected -- can't tell you of course WHEN and what damage has been done in the meantime -- so would you use an INFECTED COMPUTER to "UN INFECT" itself via the installed AV software which might itself have been compromised.

However If I WERE to get my computer infected I WOULD NOT TRUST ANY AV SOFTWARE WHATSOEVER to "clean it".

I would either restore the OS from a known clean image or re-install the system.

I always take a backup before installing any software - no matter how trivial the software is -- for other test stuff I'll even try it on a Virtual machine before loading it on to a physical running computer.

Actually using Virtual Machines for surfing the net is a good idea anyway since if it Does get infected just delete it and fire up another one.

A proper file wall, sensible computer usage and decent Net surfing habits would keep 99% of your average computer users Virus Free.

BTW one of the posters Statistics on this thread doesn't stack up in reality -- since if 37% of people are using insecure browsers / java versions - then how come the percentage of people whose computers who get infected is definitely lower by a CONSIDERABLE MARGIN.


A lot of this type of stuff is put out by AV software companies who must realize now that apart from say contracts for keeping corporate networks safe their days are surely numbered -- MSE - Free from Microsoft is as good (or as bad depending on your viewpoint) as any of them out there.

It does a reasonable job -- and remember those who look at "Statistics" for effectiveness of AV software should remember by the time those are published they are incredibly out of date too.

Cheers
jimbo
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2011   #7

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

Hi jimbo

Although you were replying to lehnerus I certainly don't have a grudge against Adobe as they make some excellent software but Adobe Reader (probably as the most used pdf reader) is highly targeted by malware and I certainly exoerienced this even though I had it locked down so nothing happened - I just got fed-up of these attacks. I think you must browse very cautiously not to experience any attacks. Perhaps the answer is just not to use the most popular software although this too has its own problems.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2011   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pincushion View Post
Hi jimbo

Although you were replying to lehnerus I certainly don't have a grudge against Adobe as they make some excellent software but Adobe Reader (probably as the most used pdf reader) is highly targeted by malware and I certainly exoerienced this even though I had it locked down so nothing happened - I just got fed-up of these attacks. I think you must browse very cautiously not to experience any attacks. Perhaps the answer is just not to use the most popular software although this too has its own problems.

Let's not forget about Adobe Flash, either. My work computer is still using version 10.1.102.64 while the latest offered by Adobe is 11.0.1.152. My IT department has a "so what" attitude.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2011   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 16 MATE (64 bit)
 
 
Photoshop is OK

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
Adobe Photoshop (CS5 / CS5.5) is EXTENSIVELY used by Professional Photographers almost exclusively compared to any other digital imaging program and most of them NEVER have problems with computer Viruses.
Photoshop seems to be their best product (and it's actually useful).
I've done a Photoshop course, but since I can't afford to buy it, I use GIMP.
I can't recall ever seeing Photoshop listed as a security risk.

Reader is a ridiculously bloated malware magnet.
At least there are alternatives to Reader, unlike that god awful "CPU-bricking" Flash.

The worst thing about Flash is, idiots use it for everything on the Internet.
In Yahoo! Mail, I can't attach a file to an email, UNLESS I run Flash.
The "Attach" button is a Flash Object!

Despite what seems like fortnightly updates, the thing is still a menace to computer users everywhere (not just Windows users).

I've always loathed Java (I only run it in VMs).
I need it for Cisco Packet Tracer.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
Most AV software doesn't really defend against really insidious attacks such as root-kits, drive by real time infections, super user type privileges etc etc and running a scan AFTER the fact won't really tell you much - it will say your computer might be infected -- can't tell you of course WHEN and what damage has been done in the meantime -- so would you use an INFECTED COMPUTER to "UN INFECT" itself via the installed AV software which might itself have been compromised.
I can't recall the original article mentioning the effectiveness of AV software.
It seemed to be saying, that if your MS OS is up-to-date with its patches and you are running a firewall you are fairly safe.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
I always take a backup before installing any software - no matter how trivial the software is -- for other test stuff I'll even try it on a Virtual machine before loading it on to a physical running computer.
I often install software in a VM (if I am suspicious of it).
I don't always create a backup image for installs.

I do make backup images (3xOS, Programs & user files) every month before I apply updates.

That means in the worst case, I lose a couple of weeks of installs (I don't install that much anyway).

On another site, I proposed that Windows should have a built-in VM (to mitigate malware attacks).
When you first install a program, it is actually installed there.
  • The VM has monitoring tools and testing routines (HDD, Network & System).
  • If the program does nothing suspicious when it is run/tested, Windows could inform you.
  • It would then offer to transfer the program to the "real" machine.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
BTW one of the posters Statistics on this thread doesn't stack up in reality -- since if 37% of people are using insecure browsers / java versions - then how come the percentage of people whose computers who get infected is definitely lower by a CONSIDERABLE MARGIN.
Perhaps not everyone:
  • Clicks on every ad they see.
  • Opens every bit of spam that they receive.
  • Leaves their PC connected to the Internet (browser open) 24/7.
In the article, one machine got hit after ~180 days, but the mean was ~1 year.
You seem to be implying that they all should have fallen on the same day.

Why didn't every unpatched PC, get hit by the Conficker Worm on the same day?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
A lot of this type of stuff is put out by AV software companies who must realize now that apart from say contracts for keeping corporate networks safe their days are surely numbered ...
Agreed.
I often see articles from Symantec (and others) trying to induce panic.

I don't think that this article was released by an AV company.
I haven't researched the conference sponsors though.

I think that you must have misinterpreted my comments on AM and AV programs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Oct 2011   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit SP1
 
 
No virus here.

I think i must be very lucky.

Iv read for years so many posts,news,articles about virus,trojans.....for very bad things that damage computers etc.

I never had any problem with any kind of virus.

Nothing,never!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 If your PC picks up a virus, whose fault is it?





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