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View Full Version : Look ma, no AV



Saucy
24-05-2009, 08:22 PM
I mentioned on another thread that I run Win7 without antivirus. It caused a bit of discussion and I don't want to hijack that other thread with an off topic discussion so I'll create a thread for it.

As an expert user, running a standard user account with automatic updates on, daily backups, and defaults like UAC and the firewall switched on, and being very conservative about what I install on my computers, I feel very comfortable without antivirus installed.

I've never had a virus on my computer. I've seen plenty of viruses on computers of people with the fanciest antivirus, usually because they automatic updates turned off, or they open email attachments and install software indiscriminately. Those people usually also use administrator accounts and don't do backups regularly.

Seems to me, antivirus is mostly overhead that doesn't actually catch viruses consistently. If I'd been running antivirus the last 15 years it would have done me more harm than any virus. Sometimes, the antivirus is an attack vector itself!

It's not what I recommend for everyone, I agree it's better for most people to have all the protection they can get, and antivirus does add one more layer. Unfortunately it seems to create a false sense of security, and causes people to forget other layers that are more important. So I recommend standard user accounts and UAC and switching on automatic updates and doing regular backups for everyone even if they have antivirus.

I realise it's a bit controversial, but it's far from unique, there are a few others who have similar experiences (http://geekswithblogs.net/btudor/archive/2009/02/16/129431.aspx) running Windows without antivirus (http://blogs.technet.com/steriley/archive/2007/09/25/more-on-the-necessity-of-antivirus-software.aspx).

Anyway, curious what people's views are. What do you do? What do you recommend others do?

Do you use all the layers of defence built into the OS or ignore some? For example, using antivirus but reducing your security by using an administrator account instead of a standard user account, or by switching off UAC.

davidmmac
24-05-2009, 08:34 PM
Previously I have ran a PC without an AV, and windows updates (on dial up it's not very feasible to be downloading 10MB files every week, thus not allowing use of the phone).

Now though, I wouldn't dream of it. On broadband I now have windows updates running, with either Nod32 or Avast running on all household pc's.

gary67
24-05-2009, 08:47 PM
Same here I run Nod on an admin account SWMBO and step son run avast on non admin accounts on their machines, incidentally only step son is on Vista we are both on XP me home and SWMBO Pro

WarNox
24-05-2009, 11:03 PM
UAC can hardly count as a layer of protection but to a very inexperienced user. That thing always stays off, probably the first thing I do when I install Vista on any machine is to turn UAC off.

---

I see your point of view on not having an AV installed, I feel the same as I am carefull of what I install on my computer too. But what about when a friend comes over and puts a flash drive/usb stick into your machine to get some files?! If that drive is infected your PC will now be too, and you won't even know.

It's just a piece of mind having an AV, even though I stick with the free versions like AVG and Comodo/Zone Alarm for the firewall.

pctek
25-05-2009, 07:32 AM
My AV is probably bored most of the time, it never finds anything.
However there have been a couple of occasions where, when browsing, I have gone to a website and NOD has blocked it and sent a warning.

You never know, careful or not.

B.M.
25-05-2009, 08:02 AM
Well, just for the records I have run two computers for over two years with No AVG, No updates and No problems.

One has Win ME O/S and the other and the Other XP SP2.

Both are on Broadband and both run 24/7.

I’m starting to think these Virus’s are like the Y2K bug, Global Warming, Bird Flu, Swine Flu and all the other Media Bull S… we’re expected to panic about.

Just my :2cents: worth. :)

Rob99
25-05-2009, 09:12 AM
I run win7 on the kids laptop, no AV installed, its still going after 2 months, I may give it a scan after another 4 months to see if anything has made its home there.

I have also run XP for over 4 years with no AV, it now has NOD32.
This computer also never got an infection.

I have vista on my work computer, when I first installed I had no AV for over 6 months.

I run a computer repair business, I was interested to see how hard it would be to get infected, it would apear most virus are installed by the user on purpose blindly clicking yes to anything that pops up.

FoxyMX
25-05-2009, 10:47 AM
If you haven't got an AV then how do you know you have never got a virus infection?



My AV is probably bored most of the time, it never finds anything.
However there have been a couple of occasions where, when browsing, I have gone to a website and NOD has blocked it and sent a warning.

You never know, careful or not.

Ditto, though I have been sent emails a few times with suspicious attachments that my AV has picked up.

Speedy Gonzales
25-05-2009, 11:13 AM
I was interested to see how hard it would be to get infected, it would apear most virus are installed by the user on purpose blindly clicking yes to anything that pops up.

Install a P2P program, and use it then see what happens :p

Rob99
25-05-2009, 11:27 AM
Install a P2P program, and use it then see what happens :pDoes µTorrent count, a few years ago I used Direct Connect.

Speedy Gonzales
25-05-2009, 11:30 AM
Probably I dont use any of them. If it'll give you viruses, its good enough

Blam
25-05-2009, 11:35 AM
Torrenting can give you viruses, but not if you're a smart torrenter.

And its rare that viruses ever get uploaded to private trackers.

Never use the public trackers much now.

Rob99
25-05-2009, 11:38 AM
Torrenting can give you viruses, but not if you're a smart torrenter.

And its rare that viruses ever get uploaded to private trackers.

Never use the public trackers much now.
And ALWAYS read the comments. No comments no download.

minster
25-05-2009, 11:39 AM
A lot of people go for many years without having insurance on their cars or property and they get away without it.

But is this a wise choice for everyone?:badpc:

Rob99
25-05-2009, 11:41 AM
A lot of people go for many years without having insurance on their cars or property and they get away without it.

But is this a wise choice for everyone?:badpc:
Dont get started on insurance, its like betting against your self.

Blam
25-05-2009, 11:49 AM
And ALWAYS read the comments. No comments no download.


Definetly agree with you on that.

rumpty
25-05-2009, 09:34 PM
Previously I have ran a PC without an AV, and windows updates (on dial up it's not very feasible to be downloading 10MB files every week, thus not allowing use of the phone).

Now though, I wouldn't dream of it. On broadband I now have windows updates running, with either Nod32 or Avast running on all household pc's.

On the dial-up topic, I have a feeling that it is more dangerous than broadband. You have no protection from the modem/router firewall.

Myth
25-05-2009, 10:04 PM
I mentioned on another thread that I run Win7 without antivirus. It caused a bit of discussion and I don't want to hijack that other thread with an off topic discussion so I'll create a thread for it.

As an expert user, running a standard user account with automatic updates on, daily backups, and defaults like UAC and the firewall switched on, and being very conservative about what I install on my computers, I feel very comfortable without antivirus installed.

I've never had a virus on my computer. I've seen plenty of viruses on computers of people with the fanciest antivirus, usually because they automatic updates turned off, or they open email attachments and install software indiscriminately. Those people usually also use administrator accounts and don't do backups regularly.

Seems to me, antivirus is mostly overhead that doesn't actually catch viruses consistently. If I'd been running antivirus the last 15 years it would have done me more harm than any virus. Sometimes, the antivirus is an attack vector itself!

It's not what I recommend for everyone, I agree it's better for most people to have all the protection they can get, and antivirus does add one more layer. Unfortunately it seems to create a false sense of security, and causes people to forget other layers that are more important. So I recommend standard user accounts and UAC and switching on automatic updates and doing regular backups for everyone even if they have antivirus.

I realise it's a bit controversial, but it's far from unique, there are a few others who have similar experiences (http://geekswithblogs.net/btudor/archive/2009/02/16/129431.aspx) running Windows without antivirus (http://blogs.technet.com/steriley/archive/2007/09/25/more-on-the-necessity-of-antivirus-software.aspx).

Anyway, curious what people's views are. What do you do? What do you recommend others do?

Do you use all the layers of defence built into the OS or ignore some? For example, using antivirus but reducing your security by using an administrator account instead of a standard user account, or by switching off UAC.
I would tend to agree with most of this.

If one were to look back on AV, antispyware and how they came to be, a lot of it was good marketing by Symantec/Nortons and other companies which ultimately made the end user quite paranoid. And that paranoia is still very rampant, more so than half the viruses. Seriously, how bad is a tracking cookie?

Yes there are bad virus infestations out there, but this really only occurs because of end-user stupidity. If they didn't click the attachment, go to that porn site, download music off kazaa etc etc, then half of these outbreaks would be more of a murmur

PEBKAC

Saucy
25-05-2009, 11:17 PM
UAC can hardly count as a layer of protection but to a very inexperienced user. That thing always stays off, probably the first thing I do when I install Vista on any machine is to turn UAC off.

But what about when a friend comes over and puts a flash drive/usb stick into your machine to get some files?! If that drive is infected your PC will now be too, and you won't even know.

But isn't that an example where UAC and standard user helps? Those visitors won't be able to install any nasties even if they wanted to. Unless they are really experts, but then antivirus wouldn't stand a chance anyway. Same deal with mum and dad if you don't tell them the admin password. :nerd:

Saucy
25-05-2009, 11:20 PM
My AV is probably bored most of the time, it never finds anything.
However there have been a couple of occasions where, when browsing, I have gone to a website and NOD has blocked it and sent a warning.

You never know, careful or not.

Yeah you are right of course, it's the risks you choose to take. :punk

Not sure how often an antivirus warning actually means the thing would have affected your PC though, I think a lot of the scanning happens before the OS defences like firewall or sandboxing of the browser or user accounts kick in.

Sweep
26-05-2009, 12:18 AM
Yeah you are right of course, it's the risks you choose to take. :punk

Not sure how often an antivirus warning actually means the thing would have affected your PC though, I think a lot of the scanning happens before the OS defences like firewall or sandboxing of the browser or user accounts kick in.

So just a question here.

Ages ago I used to use a computer which was equipped with a floppy drive. My boss had a computer also. At that time I used to drive a tow truck and hand him a floppy disk along with what hours I worked and what jobs I did. I got another floppy back from him telling me what I was getting paid and for what.

I left his floppy in the A:\ drive and rebooted which was wrong and got the Marijuana Virus on my C:\ drive.

I still use Avast and a firewall.

In my case now I am the only person that has access to this system as I live alone. I wonder what is being brought home from people at schools on CDs or DVDs and shoved in and installed whether Mum and Dad know about it or not. I do allow access to another system I have which I take to the local Computer Club. I might add that I am there to ensure what happens.

Saucy
26-05-2009, 11:24 AM
Ages ago I used to use a computer which was equipped with a floppy drive. My boss had a computer also. At that time I used to drive a tow truck and hand him a floppy disk along with what hours I worked and what jobs I did. I got another floppy back from him telling me what I was getting paid and for what.

I left his floppy in the A:\ drive and rebooted which was wrong and got the Marijuana Virus on my C:\ drive.

I still use Avast and a firewall.

In my case now I am the only person that has access to this system as I live alone. I wonder what is being brought home from people at schools on CDs or DVDs and shoved in and installed whether Mum and Dad know about it or not. I do allow access to another system I have which I take to the local Computer Club. I might add that I am there to ensure what happens.

Great point. I don't think that type of virus is common now but it's still good practice to ensure the BIOS is set to boot from the hard drive first so you don't get this type of risk.

Antivirus wouldn't have stopped that virus getting installed, but there's a chance it might have been able to pick it up and clean it afterwards.

I'm not really recommending the no antivirus approach at all, just pointing out I am ok with it for myself and a few family members who have good self control.

Definitely not for a corporate PC or one in a school or library, in those cases I'd probably go even further to lock the PC down with Active Directory or DeepFreeze (http://www.deepfreezeusa.com/html/deepfreeze.asp) $80 or SteadyState (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx) (free download).

decibel
26-05-2009, 08:45 PM
I'm not really recommending the no antivirus approach at all, just pointing out I am ok with it for myself and a few family members who have good self control.

And do you wear a seat-belt in your car or does your driving give you "..good .. control.." ?

Saucy
26-05-2009, 09:12 PM
And do you wear a seat-belt in your car or does your driving give you "..good .. control.." ?

:eek::eek::eek:

I wear seatbelts. :lol:

Rob99
26-05-2009, 09:16 PM
I dont wear a seatbelt, just a superman cape for when I need to fly out the front window.

Sweep
26-05-2009, 11:37 PM
:eek::eek::eek:

I wear seatbelts. :lol:

You wear more than one?

pkm
27-05-2009, 07:51 AM
It depends entirely on how the PC is used. I find kids and teenagers the worst for malware. Teenagers-porn,and kids - clicking everything.

Giving the kids a limited user account helps.

The thing is, a seatbealt doesnt help you much if your driving dangerously:banana

rumpty: yes it seems dangerous,but its also about the time involved online. Also users who have dialup probably simply use it for email,so if they are careful about attachments theyl probably never get a virus.

Remember the RPC worm anyone? 'in 30sec your pc will shut down'

If more users made backups itd be alot easier.

I notice HP tries to help and suggests burning backup dvds.