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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