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No free anti-virus is ever completely free
Friday, October 19, 2018
Many users don't recognise their need for anti-virus security. Why pay extra when everything is working properly? And the same applies even if the system is a wreck—just grieve over the wreckage and download Dr.Web CureIt!
Many people think they don't need to buy a program that will spend most of its time displaying an idle icon in the system tray and gobbling up system resources. However, leaving a system completely unprotected is not a good idea either, especially if the user already has the experience of having to deal with encryption ransomware infections. What’s the solution then? Well, one can download a free anti-virus—after all, there’s plenty of those to choose from today.
But there’s one catch: no free anti-virus is ever completely free. One way or the other, you will eventually pay for it. And if it's not with money, you'll have to pay with something else, for example, your data. Designing and developing a modern anti-virus is a complex and expensive technological process. And, whereas in the early ‘90s, Igor Danilov was able to write all the Dr.Web code by himself, nowadays, hundreds of competent professionals are involved in developing Dr.Web software.
So what will users of free anti-viruses have to forfeit?
Strange as it may sound, the first thing they forfeit is their security. Free anti-viruses shouldn't be able to compete with their "older brothers" that are being offered on a payment basis. Therefore, they will always offer an inferior set of features. In this day and age, basic protection is no longer enough. Malware development is a lucrative business. As a consequence, malware makers make sure that Trojans are able to circumvent basic anti-virus security mechanisms. That's why we equip Dr.Web anti-viruses with state-of-the-art technologies, such as heuristic analysis and machine learning, and never cease to perfect our preventive protection and cloud-based security features.
Second, they will have to take the time to view ads. Free anti-viruses often show rather annoying ads that can be part of their UI or emerge in pop-ups. Don't like ads? There’s a solution: commercial Dr.Web anti-viruses don't display them.
Third, you’ll be giving away your data. A free anti-virus can be used to collect information about users and the new threats they encounter. And that may not sound like a big deal, but the problem is that the data that anti-viruses transmit to their developers' servers may include your personal photos, documents, browsing history, personal data and excerpts from your online correspondence. Meanwhile, statistics and technical system information is often sold to other parties. Don't believe us? Read the EULA that accompanies your free anti-virus…
Here are just two examples.
- Data of our free mobile users remain anonymous to us and to the third party ad agencies. However, the ad agencies’ SDK code will collect data to build profiles to tailor ads to you. The SDK may collect information such as the third-party apps you installed on your device, your Android advertising identifier, your IP Address, your device's operating system details and MAC address, and other statistical and technical information. If you do not want to view third party ads, you may uninstall the free mobile product and/or choose an available paid version of mobile products, which do not serve third party ads.
- We use this Clickstream Data to provide you malware detection and protection. We also use the Clickstream Data for security research into threats. We pseudonymize and anonymize the Clickstream Data and re-use it for cross-product direct marketing, cross-product development and third party trend analytics.
Here the vendor outlines what kind of information it can grab on the device and to whom it can sell it, or how it can exchange the data for something else the company may need.
4b. Forwarding of infiltrations and information to the Provider. The Software contains a function which collects samples of new viruses and other similar malicious programs and suspicious or problematic files (hereinafter referred to as “Infiltrations”) and then sends them to the Provider, along with information about the computer and/or the platform on which the Software is installed (hereinafter referred to as “Information”). This function is disabled under the Software's standard settings. The Information may contain data (including randomly or accidentally obtained personal data) about the End User and/or other users of the computer on which the Software is installed, information about the computer, the operating system and programs installed, files from the computer on which the Software is installed and files affected by an Infiltration and details about such files. The Provider shall only use Information and Infiltrations received for research into Infiltrations and shall take appropriate precautions to ensure that Information received remains confidential. By activating this function of the Software You are agreeing to Infiltrations and Information being sent to the Provider and You are also granting the Provider the necessary approval, as specified under the relevant legal regulations, for processing Information obtained. You can deactivate this function at any time.
And this one is even better: the anti-virus can collect personal data and even files that may potentially be infected.
But let's get back to discussing how much a supposedly free anti-virus can cost.
Fourth, you forfeit your right to technical support. If something goes wrong on a machine running a free anti-virus, the user will be left to deal with all the problems on their own. In the best-case scenario, a member of a relevant community may offer a word of advice. At worst, they will have to pay another company to clean their computer of malware. В Москве это обойдется в сумму от 900 рублей минимум.
All Dr.Web users are entitled to receive technical support and free assistance in decrypting data that has been compromised by encryption ransomware.
The Anti-virus Times recommends
- Of course, you are free to decide what kind of system security you need and how you are going to maintain it. But remember that reliable anti-virus security costs much less than recovering a system after a malware attack.
- Dr.Web doesn't grab user files and personal information in the systems it protects and never relays technical system information to other parties. You can learn more about the information we do collect and why here.
And what else, in your opinion, are users of free anti-virus paying for—directly or indirectly?