Windows security in ’22 — you need more than just antivirus software | #itsecurity | #infosec

Do you need antivirus in 2022 — especially when some options now come with a cryptominer built in?

Several antivirus vendors — some options free, others, paid — have begun bundling their antivirus products with software that generates virtual currency. Of all of the requirements for antivirus, using excess cycles on your computer to generate crypto-coins is not on my list of must-haves.

Recently, Krebs on Security noted that both Norton Antivirus and Avira have told users that versions of their respective software now include a cryptominer. While it’s not enabled by default, it still gives me pause; antivirus is supposed to protect us from such potentially unwanted software, and these two vendors are now including it in their wares.

I have often thought that no antivirus software is better than the various options available. I’ve tracked patch installations on Windows platforms for years and have often seen bad interactions between antivirus software and Windows updates. Early in the Windows 7 release cycle, I regularly advised users to uninstall antivirus software before applying security updates or service packs to avoid problems. Some users also saw side effects with browsers and had to uninstall or reinstall their antivirus software to get their browser working properly. (Even with Windows 10, it’s important to ensure users are running a supported version of antivirus.)

Just think of the number of times historically that Microsoft has used installation blocks due to interaction with antivirus products.

As Microsoft explained one case in 2018: “The compatibility issue arises when antivirus applications make unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory. These calls may cause stop errors (also known as blue screen errors) that make the device unable to boot. To help prevent these stop errors, Microsoft is currently only offering the January and February 2018 Windows security updates to devices that are running antivirus software that is from antivirus software vendors who have confirmed that their antivirus software is compatible by setting a required registry key.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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