Should we uninstall anti-virus software such as Sophos, ESET, FireEye and Kaspersky ?

Regular readers of my blog know that I am no fan of anti-virus software.

Now, here is another argument against them. Tavis Ormandy recently exploited successfully Kaspersky in a way that users could find their systems easily compromised. Just recently he did the same for Sophos and ESET and even this Sunday, Kristian Erik Hermansen disclosed a zero-day vulnerability in another Malware protection solution from FireEye, which if exploited, results in unauthorized file access.

My personal opinion is that the good old days for those companies are over. Instead of continuing to invest in good security engineers and software developers, they spent their money rather for advertising, fighting against their competitors and seeking for additional ways to make money.

I guess all of you had once your own issues with your preferred virus-scanner or security suite (how they are nowadays called). Dramatical slow-downs, unreachable websites, odd browser behavior, undelivered mails or completely messed up firewall rules. All issues that suddenly disappeared once you switched off or uninstalled the virus scanner. Don’t you ? And for us network admins, isn’t it always scary when the preferred scan engine on the server gets updated because you still remember the server outage due to such an scanner update.

But you thought that this is the price we have to pay for increased security. Now we have learned that we even loose security when using Anti-Virus software.

My suggestion: Don’t use them! Stick with the built-in security measures of Windows, Mac or Linux. Use a good router, use NAT, use Firefox (or if you don’t like Firefox use Chrome for God’s sake) but always keep everything updated. This is all you need for regular browsing and working. The built in Windows defender for instance is not too bad at all. Even though those brave computer magazines regular tests show it never #1 in scanning accuracy. A few pages later you can learn why when reading the big advertisings of these Anti Virus companies.

In addition: if you have to visit suspicious websites or servers or need to access dubious systems or have to do some downloads and to unzip and install files from insecure sources: Never ever do this on your production system. At least setup a virtual machine or better use a separate computer running on a separate IP address space. This is easy to do, easy to recover in case of issues and the best protection you can get.

Don’t trust the evil,

Best regards,

Marcus