Last month I finally got around to installing antivirus software on the one Windows computer we have at home. While I’ve found Norton Anti-Virus has worked well on my system at work, I ended up choosing McAfee Internet Security Suite for two reasons: (1) unlike Symantec, they don’t use a product activation scheme, and (2) since McAfee bought Deersoft, purchasing a McAfee-related anti-spam product should help fund SpamAssassin development.
Since installing McAfee, this computer has crashed at least once each time I’ve turned it on (usually with a McAfee dialog box visible). The privacy service adds another login prompt, whether you want it or not. It tends to pop up dialogs when you’re in the middle of, say, running ScanDisk to make sure the system survived the crash McAfee caused five minutes earlier. And, ridiculously, the software and virus definition update runs through Internet Explorer.
By this I don’t mean that it expects you to go to the website and download an installer. That would be inconvenient, but acceptable (since you could choose what web browser to use). No, it pops up a “Check for updates” dialog box which then opens Internet Explorer, goes through a set of redirects until it opens a pop-up that looks like a download manager (but is clearly done using HTML), and then downloads and installs the update.
Now forget any isues you might have with buggy rendering, feature parity, monopoly abuse, antitrust, etc. Just look at IE’s track record on security.
Why would you want a security system to rely on something so notoriously insecure?
Symantec has its own update program that calls out, checks for updates, downloads them and installs. You can run it manuallky, or you can set it to grab and install virus updates automatically. Nowhere in this whole process does Internet Explorer come into the picture – or if it does, it’s hidden away where the power user won’t see it and say “What the hell do they think they’re doing?”