Anti-virus programs that are viruses

After buying a new computer last week, I was undergoing the usual process of uninstalling programs that the manufacturer thought would be useful to me but that I don’t care for. One of these was McAfee’s Internet Security suite. Perhaps it does a fine job of protecting computers if you give it the chance, but a few things bothered me:

  1. I was pestered several times per day to register the product. The options presented were along the lines of “Yes, register now” or “Remind me later”. Like a clingly salesperson, McAfee would not take “No” for an answer.
  2. The program refused to uninstall using the standard Windows uninstall mechanism. A few Google searches suggests that my experience is not exceptional.
  3. At least some users who manage to remove McAfee from their machines find that the company leaves behind poison pills in an effort to prevent competitor products from being installed.

These are serious infractions. We’ve got a program that is overwhelmingly concerned with its own survival and is willing to use sneaky tactics to achieve it. That willingness includes sabotaging users’ ability use their machines as they wish (making them unsafe in the process).

What do we call a program like that? I think it’s obvious: McAfee Internet Security is a virus.

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Password Safe Version 3.2

I’ve been using Password Safe for about 3 years, and would recommend it to everyone. Yes, it’s free. I just downloaded the latest version, and discovered the following pretty cool features:

1. You can ask the program to automatically fill in password fields on websites. Cutting and pasting wasn’t hard, but this is twice as easy!

2. It’s now possible to customize the passwords the program generates for you. Choose the number of characters, the number of characters that should be lowercase, the number that should be uppercase, etc. You can even ask the program to generate passwords that are readable (rather than gibberish).

Yes, those features are for lazy people. But laziness in these areas will give you more time to spend elsewhere, like replacing old passwords every few months.

If Password Safe doesn’t quite do it for you, Beta News has a review of a range of password managers. Perhaps one of them will strike your fancy.

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