clean code

 no malware … or no go at my devices.

While attempting to download software from the internet, now and then the operation gets interrupted, and what is already downloaded ends up being trashed.

Nothing wrong with my internet connection. It is my ESET Smart Security that intervenes, doing what it is supposed to do – protect me from malware that may harm my computers.

Knowing that this protective layer is always there and working as intended, may at times make me go a little further than I otherwise would in trying to download software for use and/or testing.

I never override ESET, no matter how much I want to download a piece of software. This security system, that is fully integrated with the Operating System on all my PCs, sure has a better handling of software security issues than I have.

malware is hampering software testing

That I protect my own computers (and peace of mind), is one thing. That I can not test all software folks may use to access mine and others' sites, is another and more important factor when it comes to cross browser testing.

Even if only a very small number of programs and other files get blocked because of security considerations, the problem is worth mentioning.

Sources for quite a few alternative browsers are on sites that serve stuff that ESET objects to, and some browsers' install and execute files seem to contain potentially harmful viruses. No way I will expose my machines to such shit, so not all browsers get properly tested or tested at all.

Same with other software used on the web, that I will not use and can not test properly for various security reasons.

Most peculiar is that some links on sites offering anti-malware software also get blocked by ESET, with detailed info about specific threat.

Just goes to show we can not really trust anyone anywhere. How on earth they manage to make people download anti-malware software from malware infested sites, beats me. But, stranger things happens all the time out here on the world wide web.

like rolling dices

I often wonder how people go about selecting, and clearing, stuff for download. Do they rely on suggestions and advices from friends and through social media, or do they intentionally search around for whatever they are after and perform personal evaluations?

However they go about it, I hope people don't run into too many problems with bad stuff served along with the good. And, maybe the average web surfer don't think, or care, about what runs in the background on their machines and devices, as long as they seem to work.

Some end-users act as if they are happy with rolling dices when it comes to security while surfing. They download anything and everything, without restrictions, from all directions, until their computer stalls.

Only then do they try to clean up the mess, often using software that only makes things worse. They need professional help in restoring things, and quite often lose good files that are important to them in the restoring process.

Others seem to go totally overboard in how they avoid downloading anything that smells the slightest of danger. They hit the “paranoid button” way too quickly and too often for their own good.

The worst of these paranoid folks might as well “pull the plug” and disconnect permanently the way they act. They definitely need help too.

Makes sense to stay somewhere in between these extremes. Maybe even pay a few dollars for reasonably reliable protection that lets us surf the web as we should – as if everything was perfectly safe out here even if it isn't.

I personally like this “middle of the road” approach to on-line security and protection. Thus, I run ESET Smart Security on all my machines, and otherwise stay alert and aware of what an all-inclusive world wide web represents.

we're being served garbage

It is quite common that we are served a lot more than we asked for when we download software. In nearly all cases these unwanted additions are either disturbing us in our daily activities, or they mess up how we organize and use software on our computers.

The best description, and naming, of this bad practice that I know of, can be found on the page I have quoted from and linked to below.

Viperware

Many software installation programs will install not just the software you want, but also extra software you neither need nor want.

Charles A. Upsdell - Browser News

I have more than enough personal experience in dealing with, and cleaning up after, viperware over the years. Some examples of viperware are listed on the page I quoted from above, and I have found many other examples of the bad practice.

No-one likes being served garbage, but the way doing business on the internet has evolved, and how many businesses have moved into the gray area between what are acceptable business practices and those that are not, it is difficult to avoid all the garbage the worst offenders throw at us.

Some vendors act as if they are doing us a favor by forcing software and functionality we haven't asked for down our throats. Of course they are not!
We are quite capable of selecting software for ourselves, and all software and functionality that is not clearly specified on the download list and during installation, is by definition unwanted and should not be included.

Whether viperware causes real problems or is just a nuisance, depends entirely on the individual user's knowledge and ability to restore and keep order on his/her device. As users are all over the map in this respect – from top professionals to absolute dummies, viperware continues to be a real problem for many.

Some form of manual clean-up is usually necessary to remove and/or disable unwanted software and restore order. But, most of all we need awareness of the bad practice and how it affects all users.

computer viruses

Way beyond the disturbing but otherwise mostly harmless viperware, we have computer viruses and other malware aimed at wrecking havoc on, or taking over, our computers. All the silent, and some not so silent, processes that we really do not want, that can be injected into our computers if we are not on guard against them.

That nearly all software, and websites, “call back to mama” – track our actions when we use the software and report it all to their maker, is bad enough. When software also starts transferring all sorts of stuff anywhere but to mama, things can get really, really bad pretty quickly.

first and second line protection

Having protection against viruses and other malware, is a must. The best security software do indeed manage to detect, block, and/or help us clean up the mess, in nearly all cases.

The sole mission of these computer programs is to keep our computers running safe and smooth, and save us from the trouble that comes with bits of harmful code, created and distributed by low-lives that are roaming the internet and/or hiding in various institutions.

Security software that is only a little behind in keeping track of threats as they emerge, provides us with more false than actual protection against computer viruses. Not much good in having those.

ESET Smart Security definitely is at the top of the class amongst anti-virus programs today, and is the security solution I personally have the best experiences with. I have used ESET “business” and “home user” protection and security software for over a decade now, and have yet to see it fail.

awareness and security advices

A high level of awareness for how the internet works and how it can be misused as well as used to do well, is users' first line of defence against all kinds of “low-lives activities”, both on and off the world wide web. Figuring out who to trust and who to mistrust, can be difficult, but it is nevertheless important.

Frequent checking of condition of ones own machines and devices, is also very, very important. It is amazing how much bad stuff that can be hidden in all kinds of files, and if it isn't caught and blocked during the download process, it may surface to do its damaging work at a later date.

At least once a month I let ESET check and clean up entire systems, harddisks and all. As ESET works in the background without disturbing me in my work, it makes sense to let it take the full round once in a while just to make sure my machines are clean.

If ESET finds something and that gets fixed, I usually run it again, before and after restart of machine, just to make sure. At the moment there are 32 files in quarantine – 18 from last week's alternative browsers downloads.

running hot…

ESET is actually performing “customized smart scanning” in the background on my laptop, as I write this. It has been at it for about four hours now – my laptop is packed with programs and data, and it will probably take another six to eight hours to finish the task.
Then I expect it to report back that all is good. Gives me peace of mind regarding my humble laptop's condition if nothing else.

Virus warning: Viperware warning: I most certainly won't use any of the “clean up your PC for free” solutions offered everywhere. I see no point in having them messing up my perfectly clean machines, after which they usually offer even more “clean-up” – at a price this time. Oh, they are soo helpful.
What a joke, and a harmful and potentially costly one at that for those who get trapped by the wrong offers.

Are there any serious “free clean-up” services on offer? Most certainly, but I have not “bumped into” any, nor am I in need of one.

surf safely

My advice is that those who, like me, like to surf safely across the world wide web, downloading whatever they want from wherever, should seriously look for, and study, the better security options.

Preferably get a good preventive solution installed before things start to go seriously wrong. Trying to fix things after the damage is done, will often end up being just another example of “too little too late”.

“Nothing really good comes for free in this world”, in my opinion at least. I have always been willing to pay for good solutions, and the best ones usually don't cost all that much, especially when compared to the stress and accumulated cost of running most of the “free” ones.

I am not affiliated with any of the many internet security software producing and/or service selling companies, and am not promoting any one solution over all others.

There are a few good options available, and if you do not have reliable protection in place already, it sure can pay off to look around for one.

NOTE: there can be only one…

One factor one has to think about when choosing security software, is that not all security programs work well together. One may have to be wiped out completely before another is installed, or else nothing may work as intended.

This is where we have to carefully read the notes about how to correctly uninstall specific programs, before installing the chosen one.

This is not surprising at all, as with the complexity of good anti-malware programs and the depth they have to work at, making them run happily along together is all but impossible since they will tend to see each other as potential threats.

Good luck. Take care, and surf safely ever after.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 28.feb.2014
last rev: 08.sep.2016


side notes.

ESET Smart 
Security on guard 24/7

ESET is on guard in the background, so I tend to forget that it is always active. Most days all I see of ESET is that its virus signature database gets updated every few hours, and that it blocks a page, or something on a page, here and there.

Then, some days, it may seem as if all hell has broke loose, and I am in a flood of stinking bad stuff. Links and redirects are being interrupted left and right, and again and again I have to look for other sources for whatever I'm after.

There are indeed a lot of bad sites and stuff on the web. The combo of ESET's database and browsers' blacklists, seems to have them well under control though.

malware infested? sorry, can't test it…

I regularly download, or update, a bunch of browsers for testing, and in about 5 percent of the cases I either can not find a source that is without additional code ESET objects to, or (in rare cases) ESET objects during the browser installation process.

So, on one hand a small number of suspect browsers can not be tested properly or at all, and on the other hand my computer does not get infected with viruses and other bad stuff. Given the alternative I find ESET's handling of the issue perfectly acceptable.

Some browser installations that ESET objected to but didn't actually block, are marked in my list over alternative browsers. Each installation were followed by a full disk/memory check and clean-up, and I keep these browsers under observation.

I won't list any of the sources or browsers that ESET blocks completely, but if you happen to have, and use, a browser I have not listed, that may be the simple reason for its absence. There may of course be other reasons…

more blocking examples

Using image search in Bing or Google, there quite often is at least one image that gets blocked by ESET, out of the many hundred listed for each search.

On the on-line dictionary I use the most, ESET blocks out one of the ads before my browser's ad-blocker extension gets a chance at doing its job.

And so it goes, discovering many potential, and some a bit more serious, threats as I surf around. The internet is really full of garbage, and I am not in the garbage collection business so I prefer to stay clear.

In most cases I would not have known about the various threats until maybe long after any damage was done, if it hadn't been for ESET Smart Security and its prompt reaction.

Probably a false positive now and then, but every blocking-report I have checked up on seems to deal with real threats. That's plenty good for me.

how viperware acts

Although not directly dangerous for our computers, and therefore not blocked by ESET, several of the browsers and other software I have tested do things I find peculiar, and some actions are appalling. A piece of software may for instance…

  1. Include unrequested software, connections and functionality in the download package. Having to clean up and manually delete such additions every time we make an upgrade, is pretty irritating and also time-consuming.
  2. Insist on staying on top, preventing all other programs from being accessed until the offending program is minimized or terminated.
  3. Insist on being primary software of its kind no matter what. Usually easy to fix manually, but pretty irritating nevertheless.
  4. Take over control of software already running on the OS, and thereby causing confusion for user. Again, easy to fix manually in most cases, but totally unwanted and pretty irritating.
  5. Disrupt existing relationships between programs and data-files. Can be pretty confusing until correct relationships and order is restored – manually of course.
  6. Only work as described when allowed to communicate all our actions back to its maker. Often requiring lots of info, like mail addresses and alike, in order to become “member of an exclusive club” – a club of idiots I presume.
  7. Auto-start on power-on and device restart, even when removed from start-up files. Easiest, and often the only, way to stop this unwanted behavior, is to remove that piece of software entirely and clean up after it.

Needless to say that the most offending programs don't get used and/or tested very often on my devices – some not more than once before being permanently deleted. What the point is in releasing such software, eludes me.

viperware does cause real problems

Although viperware in itself rarely ever pose security threats, acquiring the necessary knowledge to ease fear and restore order after a “viperware injection”, may cost both in stress, time and money for the unsuspecting user. This is the main problem with viperware.

Not everyone is able to fix and/or remove all the unwanted and totally unnecessary software and functional changes introduced by viperware. Many users are totally lost, and can't get their machines to operate normally again on their own.

Serving viperware is at best a questionable business model, and may easily make customers/​users start to distrust that specific vendor or the entire software industry. Once bitten, twice shy…

To excuse such bad practices by saying that everyone in the industry does the same, doesn't help much, and of course it isn't true either. Many businesses follow good practices and then some, but they too are hurt by the bad practices of others.

Sorting out the trustworthy sites and software vendors amongst all the bad ones, can be hard. Trust is hard won and easily lost, which is something all site owners and software vendors should keep in mind if they want to survive and grow.

viperware examples…

No-one in their right mind would install McAfee on a computer that already has ESET installed and running. Yet, Adobe packed such a piece of shit in with a regular Flash Player upgrade, and it automatically started scanning my PC for viruses. Fact is: McAfee itself was the only potentially dangerous software on my PC at the time, as it messed with my security settings.
McAfee is gone now. I am also contemplating uninstalling some Adobe software, to prevent similar unwanted installations in the future.

The Epic browser was an alright browser, until it started acting on its own. To me it does not matter how filled a piece of software is with good intentions and helpful functionality, as any software that cannot be made to behave in accordance with my wishes, will eventually disappear from my HardDisks.
Epic the privacy browser, is cleaned out now. If it stays around it will at best be installed once a year or so to check for progress, and then be uninstalled again within 24 hours to avoid recurring disturbances.

More examples of viperware will appear here when I get around to it.

security matters

Only you can judge how secure you want and need to be and feel, while surfing the web and whatever else you use your computers and devices for. I am sure you don't want your device to stall while you are in the middle of an interesting or important task because it has become infected with malware though.

Compromised machines are often the source for further spread of malware. So, in order to spare both yourself and your friends and business connections for trouble, it makes sense to look into methods to prevent transfer of unwanted stuff both ways via all forms of sharing methods.

Personally I prefer a high security level on/for all machines and devices in regular use. Better safe than sorry, and I don't want to waste time removing malware on my regular work horses.

Allowing for the few seconds it takes for security software to check any and all connections, disks, cards and devices before actual transfers take place, tends to pay off in the long run.

safety backups

Accidents do happen, and major or minor disasters will strike sooner or later. We don't need Murphy's law to tell us that nothing is entirely safe in our modern world, least of all consumer electronics.

A fire, computer viruses, spill-over from a coffee cup, or something entirely different, may destroy the PCs, laptops and other devices we store our precious data on. Or, they get lost or stolen. No matter what, something is sooner or later likely to happen to them that makes them temporary or permanently useless to us.

Machines and devices can be repaired or replaced, and new software installed. This is all just a “minor” matter of time and money.

Lost data are just lost though, and with the many storing options available today, losing data is totally unnecessary.

Apart from playing the high security game on my machines and devices, I make sure all important data is copied to several cards and units – and some also in the clouds.

Some backup copies will, because they are disconnected and kept at physically separate locations, survive no matter what happens in the real and/or virtual world. Thus, data can be restored after a disaster.

anti-malware software

I haven't personally tested all anti-malware programs available, so, apart from ESET I do not have much of an idea of what each individual solution is worth in the real world.

I have nevertheless included a couple of alternatives below, used and recommended by people/​sources I trust.

  1. my recommendation: ESET Smart Security
  2. others recommend: Malwarebytes
  3. others recommend: Malicious Software Removal Tool

If you miss some of the more popular anti-virus software brands in my list above, it is probably because none of them meets my need for security and ease of use anymore. So, although some may work fine for others who have lower needs and/or demands, I obvi­ously can not recommend any of them.


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