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Windows 7: Old School AV without cloud?

06 Oct 2014   #11

Windows 7 Pro 32

What you think is a "spyware piece" I think is a great security feature, so I think we have to agree to disagree
Isn't it great that information from other users can help you, assuming the information is anonymous?! But if you can't trust that it's anonymous then I would be very skeptical too.

I think this is more a question of trust. I don't trust that many companies but I fully trust my AV company and I've been following everything they do for a long time, and they've been around longer than most other AV companies. I know from local logs and through support contact how my privacy is treated, what's logged and not, for example my visited web sites are never logged not even locally, and I know that the same privacy policy apply for the cloud. This is a good explanation: Doing threat analysis big data while preserving user privacy

I've had issues where I contacted support to help me troubleshoot them, but because my information is anonymous all collected data on me is useless. It's bad for my troubleshooting, but good considering privacy. And I rather have it that way than the other way around.
My AV company have always been very open with how they handle privacy and that's one of the reasons why I chose them. I don't follow other AV companies as close as my own, so I can't say if this applies to all.

PS. sorry @remm that we continue this OT discussion

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Oct 2014   #12

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
Privacy issues

Well this is interesting. I've always assumed that my security software knows what sites I've visited and what I've downloaded.

You could take a look at this comment from SuperAntiSpyware staff that explains what happens regarding privacy when they collect a users data:

SAS Privacy

That's not to suggest that all security software providers do the same thing!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Oct 2014   #13

Windows 7 Pro 32

That's good, but different from my examples. First, it says nothing how connections to their server are logged, only the data itself. Second, the information was posted on this forum instead of posting a link to the SAS web site so you can confirm it.

When it comes to security and privacy I believe being skeptical is a good thing
My System SpecsSystem Spec

09 Oct 2014   #14

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Sorry I have been absent. I had family visiting for a week and got side-tracked.

I appreciate the replies. And I understand the distinction Alejandro makes about basically using the cloud like a server to fetch updates, rather than the traditional cloud model where the clent's info is uploaded into the cloud. However, I don't believe we can assume every AV vendor is using their cloud services the same way, and from a general article I read about AV cloud services last week, what the AV does is either:

1. upload copies of files off the client to scan in the cloud OR...
2. generate sig files from the client's files so that the actual file is not copied or upload, only the sigs... then the sigs are compared against the viral db in the cloud, saving local resources on the client the trouble of doing the actual scanning.

In the latter case the AV who uses sigs also noted that when offline a parial db of the most threatening infections is cached locally so that the AV can continue to do an adequate job offline, though not as effective as when online.

Now I have two issues:

1. I don't want my files OR sigs from my files uploaded anywhere, for any reason. To me, it's an issue of privacy. I like to exercise my right to privacy in all instances I can, not because I have anything to hide but b/c I have something to protect... that RIGHT to privacy. I do not use HTML-enabled mail or Web services... I use an email client and encrypt all mail... I don't use social networking... I studied online privacy from 1995-2000 and I know from history we cannot trust anyone online to do anything they are saying... and the laws run behind the need, so there is little to no oversight as technology pushes forward.

Also, even if I didn't care a whit about privacy and was fine with uploading my entire life to the cloud, I spend a lot of time offline, working on my computer and I want to use a traditional AV model that uses my own resources and a full db to do as good of a job offline as on.

I also don't want any "Web modules" like Web rep or phishing 'protection' b/c all this amounts to some company with the ability to log everywhere you go online as you "volunteer' this info when you agree to use these services that are useless anyway. (And yes, I am aware of companies like double-click that have Web bugs on every site and compile profiles, but I have an edited host file that keeps my browser from connecting to such sites, and I block Web bugs, ads, scripts, etc.) To each his/her own.

Also don't want a FW in my AV... I use Comodo FW. I like one program that does one thing, and does it well. So just looking for a simple AV. That's it. No bells and whistles. I am guessing there is no such software like this anymore that is up to date. Form has won out over substance.

Thanks again, guys.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Oct 2014   #15

Windows 7 Pro 32

I tried searching but mostly found old posts with instructions for only updating definitions offline. And being a few years old I'm not sure it's still relevant.

You're looking for an AV with real-time scanning right? If you spend a lot of time offline maybe there's no need for it?! There is an AV without real-time scan that requires the user to manually scan files: Free Antivirus for Windows - Open source GPL virus scanner but that's probably not what you're looking for.....

Another thought is to use your firewall to try to find out and only allow the connections for the AV to update the definitions. And not allow any other connections. At least in theory it should work.

I think what you're looking for might be as hard to find as a new car without all modern electronics all cars seem to have these days

Finally, one more privacy example of my AV company: they have a privacy VPN app that a user got a campaign code to try for free and the user needed to reinstall the app after a phone update and lost subscription time. The answer: we avoid collecting any data that could be used to identify our users, the campaign code isn't linked to app store usernames or IDs, sorry for the inconvenience source
That's how I want it, privacy as prio 1
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2014   #16

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
Possible Solution

Well I use a few on demand scanners in addition to my installed AV and one of those is:

Crystal Security

I use the portable version with real time protection disabled. However it's also possible to enable protection and start with windows. It does use cloud scanning but if you block the single executable with your firewall it will disable cloud scanning and the program will only query the internal database when scanning.


Fully integrated Internal database - Active protection and Checkup
Each detected potentially dangerous file is analyzed with Internal and Cloud database.

Program is able to continue work successfully without any network and cloud connection.

Cloud detection is by VirusTotal and Internal database is by Malc0de and ThreatCenter.

Easily enable/ disable protection whenever you like.

There's a checkbox available to disable uploading of files anyway.

Downside: It's highly configurable but digging through the settings isn't easy.

Since you don't wan't additional cloud protection I'd suggest running it alongside a program like:

Universal Spyware and virus tracker

It will monitor system folders and any other locations that you specify for any new EXEs or DLLs that are created or modified with the option to quarantine files if required.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2014   #17

Windows 8

Someone already mentioned Microsoft Essentials as a good fit for what you are asking. And I have to second that. It's a good solution to have as your real-time protection.

If you want another scanner for a second opinion, mainly when you install new programs, or transfer new documents (emails, usb key, etc...). You're better off using something like VirusTotal or Jotti.

Both allow to upload files for them to be scanned. It is similar to the cloud feature you don't like, but it's manual so you can choose which files you want to send, not automatically dumbed down like cloud AVs. Moreover both services use a pool of AVs (50+ for VirusTotal, 22 for Jotti) with the latest virus signatures definitions. It is much safer than having only 1 or 2 local scanners.

VirusTotal also allows you to scan based on the hash of a file. This allows you to bypass the 64MB upload limit and is also better for privacy. If the hash is already in its database it will show you the latest scan on the original file.

Apart from that, there are other solutions that work well as on-demand scanners, to be used locally as an aide for your main AV. If they connect to Internet, it's only for signatures updates, some don't even have that feature and you'll need to reinstall the app (or its virus definitions) regularly by yourself. Most of them can also be found as portable apps (Portable Antivirus Firewall | Category) which don't need any install and can be run from usb/external drive :
Microsoft Safety Scanner
Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool
Dr. WEB CureIt!
McAfee Stinger
Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanner

Some are advertised as removal tools, but they are actually regular scanners (old school like you said) based on the same engine and virus signatures as the full security suites. They just don't include all the fancy features (real-time protection, cloud, etc...).

N.B: I tend to also agree with what Alejandro85 said. The "cloud" is mostly marketing hype.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2014   #18

Windows 7 Pro 32

I think I've forgot to mention my own "hack" to check files on both VirusTotal and HerdProtect(68 AVs) without uploading any files or installing any program:

VirusTotal+HerdProtect - Check Files with Simultaneously using Send To context menu
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15 Oct 2014   #19

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit

@Tookeri, Callender and oneeyed: Thanks very much for spending so much time with those suggestions. I am so sorry I got waylaid again. I looked into some of these and will see what I end up doing. You're right, Tookeri - looking for an old school AV is like looking for a new car without electronic gadgets.

Appreciated your time, all of you. Thanks again!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2014   #20

Windows 10 Pro

This should answer most peoples questions about what an AV software collects:
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 Old School AV without cloud?

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