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Microsoft Admits Disabling Anti-Virus Software For Windows 10 Users (bbc.com) 208

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Microsoft has admitted that it does temporarily disable anti-virus software on Windows PCs, following an competition complaint to the European Commission by a security company. In early June, Kaspersky Lab filed the complaint against Microsoft. The security company claims the software giant is abusing its market dominance by steering users to its own anti-virus software. Microsoft says it implemented defenses to keep Windows 10 users secure. In an extensive blog post that does not directly address Kaspersky or its claims, Microsoft says it bundles the Windows Defender Antivirus with Windows 10 to ensure that every single device is protected from viruses and malware. To combat the 300,000 new malware samples being created and spread every day, Microsoft says that it works together with external anti-virus partners. The technology giant estimates that about 95% of Windows 10 PCs were using anti-virus software that was already compatible with the latest Windows 10 Creators Update. For the applications that were not compatible, Microsoft built a feature that lets users update their PCs and then reinstall a new version of the anti-virus software. "To do this, we first temporarily disabled some parts of the AV software when the update began. We did this work in partnership with the AV partner to specify which versions of their software are compatible and where to direct customers after updating," writes Rob Lefferts, a partner director of the Windows and Devices group in enterprise and security at Microsoft.
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Microsoft Admits Disabling Anti-Virus Software For Windows 10 Users

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  • samples? as in.. the same stuff again?

    no wonder stuff keeps getting slower. imagine that every one of those takes only 4 bytes. that's 438 megabytes per year.

    or is that 300 000 new builds of software from sw developers... any software.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Breaking down yearly stats it looks like 1 million per day are actually created.
      But AV only finds about 300,000 a day. And that's all of them collectively.
      Not only is AV useless but also damaging as it creates never ending bloat in AV products.

      • So your immune system is useless because it doesn't detect all diseases? And it causes all these problems from allergies to other autoimmune diseases right up to transplant rejections. Get rid of it and tell us how much better off you're now.

        • So your immune system is useless because it doesn't detect all diseases?

          The thing about trying to pull off the lawyer strategy, is that you need to know what the answer will be before you ask the question.

          We could get into the much bigger flaw of your entire line of reasoning by observing that a virus scanner cannot equate to your immune system. Your immune system is composed of both offensive and defensive capabilities, proactive and reactive, layer upon layer. Your skin is part of your immune system. The closest software analogy to this is the Operating System, certainly n

          • Well, then do the second part of my statement: Get rid of it and tell us how much better off you're now.

          • We could get into the much bigger flaw of your entire line of reasoning by observing that a virus scanner cannot equate to your immune system. Your immune system is composed of both offensive and defensive capabilities, proactive and reactive, layer upon layer. Your skin is part of your immune system. The closest software analogy to this is the Operating System, certainly not the lowly Virus Scanner.

            Yes, your entire body is built to resist invaders just like the entire Operating System should be built to resist invaders but that's generally not what people are talking about when they say immune system. A good analogy for a virus scanner might be your white blood cells. As the OP said, get rid of your white blood cells and see how well you fare. They do cause problems in some people and are not 100% effective but generally not having them is a lot worse for most people.

            • A better example of an analogy for a virus scanner would be a thick woolen blanket, that you drape over yourself when you are at the beach, to protect against solar radiation that would give you skin cancer.

              I mean, really. That's what we have more megahertz and RAM for, isn't it? For better and more powerful Antivirus agents.

        • My immune system detects pretty much all diseases caused by intrusive bacteria and viruses, etc. This includes bacteria that it hasn't been exposed to yet. Its reaction to such is slower than I'd like, and in some cases that can be fatal, but it has a much better recognition rate than anti-virus software.

          • It does? For real? Without first having to learn about them, you were born with a perfect immune system?

            Mind if I draw a few pints of your blood? I have a hunch that it would sell for a few millions.

          • This includes bacteria that it hasn't been exposed to yet.

            And these would all be variations on bacteria that have been promiscuously circulating genes for billions of years, on a continuous basis, with perhaps a few truly novel mutations scattered here and there.

            Just wait for the zero-day bacteria evolved in electrical quarantine on a giant, distributed Beowulf cluster of Volta GPUs, then released into wetware by some bio3d printer hacked by North Korea via some rogue Windows XP box long lost between the dr

  • McAfee? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2017 @11:53PM (#54666101)

    So, apparently Microsoft is the only one who has actually figured out how to disable McAfee. They should patent that.

  • Just how necessary is a anti-virus of any description? If Windows could make their OS as hardened as OSX or just about any flavor of Linux none of these anti-virus companies would survive anyways. What are they going to moan about then? "Your product is too secure, we are losing business?!"

    • Adding antivirus gives malware writers an even larger surface to attack. All the major antivirus vendors have had vulnerabilities [google.com], some of them extremely serious. Furthermore, they don't protect against new threats.
      • by stooo ( 2202012 )

        >> Adding antivirus gives malware writers an even larger surface to attack.
        Yep, exactly. And even sometimes, it's straight backdoors that are added, as is the case in SSL interception by AV Software.

    • by rastos1 ( 601318 )
      You cannot design a foolproof OS that is still somewhat usable by an average user. The AV companies will focus on trojans and checking data that is being input to various SW and may exploit that application's vulnerabilities - think PDF and Acrobat Reader, e-mail attachments, fishing web sites, ...
    • Security by obscurity is not hardening. The only reason they don't see nearly as many attacks is because the install base is so much smaller. It's not an advantageous use of time to go after OSX or Linux, as opposed to Windows based on the installed user base alone.
    • >> If Windows could make their OS as hardened as OSX

      It's called Windows 10 S, and Slashdotters excoriated them for releasing it as a crippled piece of software.

  • Well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    Of course you run one AV software at a time and you disable the other one. That is PC use 101. What's the problem?

    • It's the same complaints that the EU had with Internet explorer. Microsoft installs something per default. That's what bothers the courts.
  • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @01:19AM (#54666281)

    Or for a non-inflammatory title: Microsoft Disables Faulty AV Software so Win10 Uses Can Safely Update To Latest OS

    AV software is some of the worst crap to get foisted on Windows installations. I wish MS would just disallow it outright. But as the Kaspersky suit shows, AV vendors aren't going to let go of that teet if they find any way to avoid being forced to do so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pablo_max ( 626328 )

      Yup.
      I work for a global organization with over 200k employees scattered in various countries. While each location has it's own company name, company culture and business segment, one thing is universally enforced by our mother company.
      Fucking McAfee. It's even version 8.8 if you can believe that.
      Every single morning when I get to work that stupid POS AV scanner insists to make a complete scan of my PC and is set to high priority.
      So, for 30 minutes each day it is impossible to actually use my computer.

      In our

      • I download plenty of shady things from shady sources and I have never gotten a virus. Plus.. my pc's are usable.

        I will happily lend you my sister if you really want to test your AV solution.

      • I download plenty of shady things from shady sources and I have never gotten a virus.

        Gee, I can't imagine why your IT department resorts to such heavy-handed AV protection...

        As a sysadmin, I hate having to run AV software on our clients. It's a resource hog, so we receive complaints about responsiveness - and that's just the on-access scanning, the full scans are even worse. Even when we schedule scans out-of-hours, there's always someone who has let their laptop battery drain or switched their workstation off at the socket, so they get smacked with a full scan the next morning. Then there'

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Why is it that AV software never does anything useful to actual block viruses? Disable Internet Explorer and install Chrome/Firefox with uBlock and conservative security settings, for example. Stop old, known vulnerable versions of apps from opening and provide the user with instructions to update them. Generate some random phising emails, and when the user falls for them publicly shame them via the company wide mailing list. They could make a game of it, start at Nigerian Price level and see if you can get

      • Every single morning when I get to work that stupid POS AV scanner insists to make a complete scan of my PC and is set to high priority.

        It's too bad that your IT department is too incompetent to use reasonable settings for your antivirus, but the fact is that those are just settings, and it's not McAfee's fault that you get a free system scan with every reboot. That is the fault of your IT department.

      • Holy shit. You're just figuring this out? Let me guess...you're 20? How did you get such a low userid? I ask, because McAfee has been fucking terrible for a decade at least. (Not as bad as Norton, but that's a low fucking bar.) Seriously. Go back a decade and look through /., and I bet you can find AV horror stories just like yours. Hell, some might even have my name on them.

    • Yes, I did wonder whether any of this was related to the problems with Anniversary Update and Avast antivirus. For those unaware, this saw a large portion of Win10 64-bit PCs running Avast go into a BSOD reboot-loop during the installation of the Anniversary Update.

      There was an Avast update that fixed the issue within around 48 hours, but it was still a fairly major headache in the interim. It's not entirely unreasonable of MS to have acted to prevent a repeat of this.

      • It's not just Avast, others have issues too. The wrong rev of McAffee DLP will cause the windows shell not to display any text, and the wrong rev of several products will block the OS from booting entirely.
    • AV vendors aren't going to let go of that teet if they find any way to avoid being forced to do so.

      That's a nice computer you have there it would be a shame if something happened to it

  • Misleading Title (Score:5, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <megazzt AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 22, 2017 @01:31AM (#54666301) Homepage
    More accurate: Microsoft admits disabling outdated incompatible AV software that was not updated in a timely manner by their vendors to support the newest version of Windows before their users upgraded. Microsoft also ensured these users would remain protected by enabling the built-in AV protection since the users were not guaranteed to have any other compatible AV software installed.
    • Don't forget the part where AV software can break the update process, which is why disabling it has always been a recommended step when updating.
    • Even more accurate: Microsoft chose what should or should not be running regardless of what you had intended.

      Again, if you participate in the Microsoft ecosystem, you abdicate all control but keep all liability. Seems like something I would be excited to not only participate in, but pay for the "privilege" of doing so.

      I am unsure how this situation is maintained. It is more than just market forces.

    • How "outdated" was the AV software? Are we talking weeks or months or years out of date? Kapersky Labs complains that AV vendors have little time to update their software [zdnet.com] before that version of Windows. Also they complain that the AV software isn't "disabled" but uninstalled with Windows installing Defender over it. I would have issue with MS uninstalling any 3rd party software I installed on my machine.
      • I would have issue with MS uninstalling any 3rd party software I installed on my machine.

        Yeah? And what would you do about it? File a complaint?

    • This.

      I remember when Windows 10 Anniversary hit, our tech office was flooded with customers that had screwed up start menus and windows apps. in some cases Explorer would not even boot and would crash in an endless loop. The only thing they all had in common: an older copy of Kaspersky. The latest version wasn't even fully compatible.with anniversary and would still cause issues until they updated it about a month later. As far as I could tell, no other AV vendor had similar issues with Windows 10 and my re

  • Microsoft's own apps wouldn't run without getting flagged

  • by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Thursday June 22, 2017 @09:24AM (#54667573)

    In order to understand why Microsoft may have logically chosen to do that for their CUSTOMERS, you would have to understand drivers. All pro-active virus scanning software sits in the driver stack. They intercept operating system calls to try to determine whether you're about to run i_h4x0r3d_j00.exe and prevent that from happening. Microsoft drivers also happen to sit in the same driver stack along with everyone else's. They all sit at a particular "altitude" in that driver stack. Some versions of software that are signed drivers that sit in this stack interfere with other drivers in that stack. Microsoft most likely proactively decided that instead of being like "I can't update X because of your crappy third party software that doesn't work right" to temporarily disable it, so they could apply the updates and then re-enable it or their product afterwards.

    Now I realize that doesn't make for as sensational news story as something that implies Microsoft purposefully disabling other competitors software but it's more likely that something like what I said is the case. I hate to disappoint you. Cheers!

    • If Microsoft thought that introducing incompatibilities was an ideal situation for the consumer (not being sarcastic here), I am unsure how that translates into the liberty of controlling what software someone chooses to run.

      The only reasonable choice would be to introduce the incompatibility and let the user decide if they want to deal with the Blue Screen.

      Ultimately, this is not about improvements, incompatibilities, features, etc. This is a shot across the bow concerning Microsoft determining what you ca

    • "I can't update X because of your crappy third party software that doesn't work right" to temporarily disable it, so they could apply the updates and then re-enable it or their product afterwards.

      Um, no. That 3rd party software worked perfectly fine with a previous version of Windows. It isn't compatible with newer version. Also one complaint with Kapersky Labs is that it didn't disable and re-enable. It uninstalled it then installed Windows Defender. [zdnet.com] "One of the key complaints is that Windows 10 uninstalls Kaspersky antivirus without the consent of users and enables the built-in Windows Defender."

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