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patriots88888
09-09-09, 18:35
I'm almost certain and about 90% convinced that one exists and I believe it only stands to reason. It's a multi-billion dollar industry and yes, while there are a few free antivirus suppliers, most computers come pre-installed with ones that are not. The majority of users will just continue on with their existing antivirus once the 'free' trial period expires because they are either happy with it, unaware of others, and/or too preoccupied and lazy to be bothered with seeking alternatives and switch to another . So those who use the free software are in a small percentage compared to the 'big wigs' like Symantec and McAfee.

The article which follows is an attempt to discredit and debunk the conspiracy claims, however I see some flaws in the author's reasoning which I have bolded.

What's your opinion? Conspiracy or no?

Why there is no global antivirus software conspiracy
By Jonathan Yarden, TechRepublic.

Many believe that there's an ongoing conspiracy between virus writers and antivirus software makers, but Jonathan Yarden says the theory has no basis. Find out why such a conspiracy just isn't possible.

Since the first computer viruses appeared in the DOS era, there's been an ongoing digital arms race between the authors of malicious code and the companies that write antivirus software. Many people believe there's a global conspiracy going on between these two factions to benefit both groups. And for some, increasing virus and worm outbreaks only strengthen this belief. It's certainly true that antivirus software wouldn't exist if there were no worms and viruses, but that doesn't mean antivirus companies hire people to write worms and viruses. In my opinion, there are many intelligent people in the world who enjoy nothing better than creating malicious code and preying on the incompetence of people using computer systems.

The majority of computer users expect computers to work properly without any maintenance at all. These are the same people who mindlessly click executable e-mail attachments, causing worms and viruses to spread unchecked.

From what I've seen in more than 20 years of working as an IT pro, the conspiracy argument doesn't hold a lot of water--because it doesn't take into account the incompetence of the average computer user. I think it's safe to say that at least 90 percent of the people using computers are ignorant to the details of how they work.

Exactly the reason why they would need antivirus software and this only lends support to the conspiracy claims, not debunk them. If they want to get their computers running properly once again and prevent a reoccurence of such a thing from happening in the future, what's the first thing that any PC tech will ask/tell them?

Answer: "Are you running any antivirus software" and "Better get yourself some dependable antivirus software installed so this doesn't happen again." And most of them recommend either Norton or McAfee (the ones you must pay for).

For a conspiracy to occur, there would need to be collusion and incentive. Money is usually good enough for most people, and companies that produce antivirus software obviously make money. But no one has managed to locate a trail of money from antivirus companies to the people who are writing worms and viruses.

How could they if the same workers who are getting paid by these antivirus suppliers to write the antivirus codes are the same people who are creating the viruses to begin with? They would simply be receiving the money through their paychecks.

I think the author believes that antivirus suppliers could only hire people outside of their companies to write the viruses and worms, however if someone is qualified sufficiently enough to create the antivirus code, then I see no reason why they wouldn't be able to create and write the viruses themselves.

Full article here: http://www.zdnetasia.com/techguide/security/0,39044901,39290756,00.htm

Another argument against the conspiracy claims I have heard is how they equate it to doctor's and physicians who protect us from 'real life' viruses. They say that nobody would believe that their own doctor would be creating viruses and illnesses to make us sick so that we would ultimately need their services to get well again. So why would anyone believe anything different in the case of computer antivirus protection? Continuing on to say that we are grateful for these doctor's who protect us (which we are) so we should feel equally grateful for those who protect our computers and personal information as well, playing the sympathy card if you will.

The problem with that line of thinking is, as far as I know there isn't any Hippocratic Oath or moral code for antivirus suppliers and workers. They're comparing two different things here, our physical/mental health (a living entity) to our PC's health (an inanimate object). Sorry but that line of reasoning just doesn't wash with me. :p

The bottom line is money talks and as more people invest in antivirus, the more they ultimately stuff into their pockets.

I hope I'm wrong about all this and maybe I am, but the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that there is indeed something going on. :o

Encore
09-09-09, 20:20
I'm usually suspicious of articles with that kind of title. They just sound so biased right from the start. :o And, I'm not saying I believe in the conspiracy but the arguments of that article, like you point out, are incredibly weak. :ohn:

Lara's Nemesis
09-09-09, 22:09
I've been suspicious of anti virus programmes like Norton and McAfee for a while now. I've had both of them on my PC in the past, never again. There are good free programmes out there like Avast.

larafan25
09-09-09, 22:34
shoot I had no idea of the free programs, and right when my original antivirus thingy ended I right away got viruses and I'm not sure from where:p

Phys
09-09-09, 22:54
I've been suspicious of anti virus programmes like Norton and McAfee for a while now. I've had both of them on my PC in the past, never again. There are good free programmes out there like Avast.

Avast is a perfect Anti-virus for me. The best i've had so far. Originally I had Norton. Too slow and didn't seem to find anything. I then had AVG which was good and found some virus but started getting slow. Since i've transferred to Avast, I've had no problems whatsoever. I like how it actually speaks to me and notifies when the virus database has been updated. I also like how you can do a boot time scan.

Dennis's Mom
09-09-09, 22:56
It makes no sense to me that the so-called "subculture of hackers" suddenly quit making viruses or hacking, necessitating the corporate creation of viruses to make people buy software. Where did they go? Did they run out of ideas? They were doing such a bang-up job with their email attachments and trojans and wormz!

Why on earth would a company PAY SALARY for what they were getting for free?

Encore
09-09-09, 23:11
It makes no sense to me that the so-called "subculture of hackers" suddenly quit making viruses or hacking, necessitating the corporate creation of viruses to make people buy software. Where did they go? Did they run out of ideas? They were doing such a bang-up job with their email attachments and trojans and wormz!

Why on earth would a company PAY SALARY for what they were getting for free?

Good point, here's another question:
Why would hackers keep doing something for free when they could offer their services and be payed for it? :D

voltz
09-09-09, 23:50
Most hackers don't just do this for free, they always tried to get whatever they can in your system so they can steal bank info on your account. In relation, I always think that there's anti-virus venders who deliberately MAKE their own trojans just to ensure we keep buying products from them. I mean how do they always know which one's to keep blocking? :confused:

patriots88888
10-09-09, 00:07
It makes no sense to me that the so-called "subculture of hackers" suddenly quit making viruses or hacking, necessitating the corporate creation of viruses to make people buy software. Where did they go? Did they run out of ideas? They were doing such a bang-up job with their email attachments and trojans and wormz!

Why on earth would a company PAY SALARY for what they were getting for free?

Not understanding your question as it's worded. I'm assuming you mean, 'why pay employees to write viruses?' If that is what you mean here, who's to say that those employees are in fact getting paid more than what they would for just writing the antivirus codes? Times are tough, people will do just about anything for employment these days. Even if that consists of more work involved.

As for 'where did they go' the 'subculture of hackers', I believe Encore already answered that for me. I'm quite sure they would much rather be paid than not. And I'm also quite confident that even if the antivirus companies were paying more for those employees' 'work' they would still be making a substantial profit by them doing so. One hand feeds the other so to speak.

Ward Dragon
10-09-09, 01:27
I think that the antivirus companies definitely want their trial software pre-installed on PC's (and probably pay for PC makers to do that). However, I don't think they're writing viruses. If they were, it would probably be very difficult to keep it secret.

patriots88888
10-09-09, 01:52
I think that the antivirus companies definitely want their trial software pre-installed on PC's (and probably pay for PC makers to do that). However, I don't think they're writing viruses. If they were, it would probably be very difficult to keep it secret.

I imagine it would be difficult to keep secret but I'm also sure they get paid really well to keep their mouths shut and their hands busy at their keyboards.

I didn't think you would agree about any conspiracy here :p and while I am myself skeptical about conspiracy theories in general, you have to at least admit that it's certainly a possibility. One big difference between this and the many others is the almighty dollar that's involved. Money speaks volumes more than anything else, so no need to go into the ethics department with this one. ;)

Ward Dragon
10-09-09, 01:58
I imagine it would be difficult to keep secret but I'm also sure they get paid really well to keep their mouths shut and their hands busy at their keyboards.

I could be totally wrong here, but the general impression I got is that "real" hackers aren't in it for money and just want to be renowned for their skills, in which case they couldn't be paid to just sit there and never brag about what they've done :p

I didn't think you would agree about any conspiracy here :p and while I am myself skeptical about conspiracy theories in general, you have to at least admit that it's certainly a possibility. One big difference between this and the many others is the almighty dollar that's involved. Money speaks volumes more than anything else, so no need to go into the ethics department with this one. ;)

I think anything is possible but I require a large burden of proof before thinking something is likely to be true. My biggest problem with most conspiracy theories is that they require too many people to keep secrets. People in general love to brag and gossip, and the more people are involved the more unlikely it is that all of them will keep quiet about whatever nefarious deeds are being done.

As for antivirus software makers wanting their trial software pre-installed on PC's, I didn't think that was any secret. Why else would Dell, HP, etc. include all that crap on a new PC? It's like ads on websites or commercials on TV. They're pretty obvious about it so it's not really a conspiracy :p

Big Matt
10-09-09, 03:07
The "antivirus conspiracy" is something I think probably exists. Being the untrusting yet practical individual that I am, I suspect that reality is probably a combination of both conspiracy and true malicious individuals who operate on their own. As for myself, I find it unnecessary to pay antivirus extortion fees because of the hardware based security method I use. In my case, infection is more of an occasional annoyance rather than the nightmare some people find it to be.

Dennis's Mom
10-09-09, 13:18
There's no doubt money is a great motivator, but you're talking about a group of individuals, this "subculture of hackers", who are essentially "anti-establishment" by definition. So they're going to work for The Man doing The Man's work so The Man can make more money? Doesn't that sort of nullify whatever "coolness" and "rebelliousness" cache hacking had?

I also agree with the statement that more than a few of these individual are out to perform electronic theft, which would be untaxable income, as opposed to a salary which would be taxable. Considering both activities (deliberate sabotage of people's computers for pay and sabotage of people's computers for personal gain) are totally illegal, I would have to say the second would be far more lucrative and probably hold the lessor chance of getting caught. Something about corporate records retention rules, I guess. I would also imagine the work hours are better being a "self-employed" hacker.

I also see no advantage in having your own virus creators. Norton can only make itself look good, since McAffee would be out there programming viruses to make itself look good. I fail to see how one could get ahead. You can only block known viruses. If there's this "virus competition" going on (and the conspiracy necessitates it), there would still be a legitimate need to have anti-virus software.

In the end, I think personal glory would outweigh a salary. Would you rather be a (possibly) well-paid-through-theft hacker that could brag to his online hacker buddies how he brought down Wells Fargo, or a paid shill to program viruses just so Norton could be The Hero and get the glory?

Larapink
10-09-09, 13:39
Symantec and McAfee are a waste of time they take up too much RAM I never use them, I trust Kaspersky at the moment and if it annoys me it will be finished deleted off my system.

patriots88888
10-09-09, 16:48
There's no doubt money is a great motivator, but you're talking about a group of individuals, this "subculture of hackers", who are essentially "anti-establishment" by definition. So they're going to work for The Man doing The Man's work so The Man can make more money? Doesn't that sort of nullify whatever "coolness" and "rebelliousness" cache hacking had?

I also agree with the statement that more than a few of these individual are out to perform electronic theft, which would be untaxable income, as opposed to a salary which would be taxable. Considering both activities (deliberate sabotage of people's computers for pay and sabotage of people's computers for personal gain) are totally illegal, I would have to say the second would be far more lucrative and probably hold the lessor chance of getting caught. Something about corporate records retention rules, I guess. I would also imagine the work hours are better being a "self-employed" hacker.

I also see no advantage in having your own virus creators. Norton can only make itself look good, since McAffee would be out there programming viruses to make itself look good. I fail to see how one could get ahead. You can only block known viruses. If there's this "virus competition" going on (and the conspiracy necessitates it), there would still be a legitimate need to have anti-virus software.

In the end, I think personal glory would outweigh a salary. Would you rather be a (possibly) well-paid-through-theft hacker that could brag to his online hacker buddies how he brought down Wells Fargo, or a paid shill to program viruses just so Norton could be The Hero and get the glory?

There are such things as rogue or 'dummy' viruses and trojans if you will. ;)

Everyone's points are well taken. I haven't any definitive proof in regards to this obviously. It's more an intuitive 'guess' of 'feeling' than anything else. Maybe I'm just cynical of corporate business, especially when such a great amount of money is involved and there's no way to actually see their work. Trust is a very difficult thing to extend for this reason.

Cochrane
10-09-09, 17:08
An important point is that malware is an active business in the field of organized crime. Taking over computers to get personal data or to use them to send spam emails is something people do for a living. The "Hacker culture" that is just in it for the glory is really not all of the story.

I am fully convinced that anti-virus companies exaggerate some threats to sell more software. However, the theory that they create it themselves is somewhat problematic. As an example, why is there hardly any malware for Mac OS X? Everybody on Windows basically already has anti-virus protection, except for those who are too confident or too stupid. The amount is not going to increase much other than by pre-installing, so there's little room for growth. On Mac OS X, though, if you had a virus that was a real problem, and an anti-virus product, you could make a killing. So why aren't we seeing that? Writing basic malware for Mac OS X is just as easy as it is for any other operating system.

I'm ignoring Linux here because I think the amount of people who use Linux and would actually be willing to pay for any software is probably too low.

Dennis's Mom
10-09-09, 17:47
In the end, anti-virus software is something akin to insurance. It's easy to resent paying for it when "nothing happens," and if you're even a moderately savvy user, the odds of needing it are low.

Another point, the world is growing more computerized every day. That means there will only be new opportunities for big companies like McAfee or Norton. When opportunities abound, there's little need to manufacture work by illegally creating viruses. Actually, the first time I heard the name Norton (ages ago) was in conjunction with their program "Norton Utilities" that would allow me to see hidden files (all the better to get Paint Shop from one computer to another via floppy disks) So Norton didn't start out with anti-virus software, and chances are they won't finish with it either.

Punaxe
10-09-09, 17:50
I'm agreeing with everyone above who has said that there is plenty of different kinds of incentive to create viruses without working for a company, so it would be impossible for the antivirus companies to actually control the market: the legitimate threat would still be there.
Furthermore I think the risk is just too great: if it's find out, the company won't only have to quit its business, it may well have to repay every damage any of its viruses has demonstrably done on top of course, of the huge fines.
Since the legitimate threat is there, there's no need to create or extend it, and it definitely doesn't outweigh the costs of being caught.

Mokono
10-09-09, 18:00
I think that the antivirus companies definitely want their trial software pre-installed on PC's (and probably pay for PC makers to do that). However, I don't think they're writing viruses. If they were, it would probably be very difficult to keep it secret.

I hate the Norton by default in Laptops, i got rid of it and installed PER instead.