For some time, Symantec's anti-virus product had a reputation for being bloated. Then along came the Norton Internet Security 2009 package and with it rave reviews. The improvements included a leaner footprint, improved speed, white listing and other technologies to mark clean files as trusted, as well as continued free technical support.
AV-Comparatives.org reported the product achieving ADVANCED+ in detection tests and proactive ADVANCED due to improved heuristics. The biggest improvement noted by AV-Comparatives.org was the impact on system resources, with the new version running light on the system and no major impact on performance.
Could it be that that Symantec was not able to build sales on the favorable press results and bundling with Hewlett Packard and Dell computers? Instead, Symantec announced a partnership with IAC/Ask:
"Oakland, CA and Cupertino, CA – Feb. 03, 2009 – Leading search engine Ask.com, an operating business of IAC (Nasdaq: IACI) with 76 million monthly unique users, and Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), whose Norton brand is the world’s security market share leader for consumer software and services, today announced a multi-year, strategic partnership to deliver the best answers and even safer search results on the Web."
If you can get past the Symantec self-promotion in the above quote, I suggest that you read Ben Edelman's report in Current Practices of IAC/Ask Toolbars and learn more than you ask for:
Understand that IAC pays vendors per install of their product. Thus, the pre-checked option to include the toobar in products such as Check Point's ZoneAlarm Firewall, Webroot, Comodo Firewall, and StopZilla has resulted in their inclusion in the Calendar of Updates (CoU) Installers Hall of Shame.
"As the fifth-biggest search engine, Ask faces a clear problem: How to get users to leave their favored search engines, to conduct their searches at Ask instead? One Ask strategy is to buys ads on TV and in other media, claiming to offer a better product. But Ask also drives traffic to its search engine by enticing users to install its toolbars. This article looks at Ask's current and recent toolbar practices, including:
- Promoting its toolbars on sites targeted to kids. Details.
- Promoting its toolbars through ads that appear to be part of other companies' sites. Details.
- Promoting its toolbars through other companies' spyware. Details.
- Installing without any disclosure whatsoever and without any consent whatsoever. Details.
- Soliciting installations via "deceptive door openers" that do not accurately describe the offer; failing to affirmatively show a license agreement; linking to a EULA via an off-screen link. Details.
- Making confusing changes to users' browsers -- increasing Ask's revenues while taking users to pages they didn't intend to visit. Details.
Throughout, I compare these practices to the statements of Ask's staff, and I compare these practices with applicable legal and ethical duties."
Tell me, are you ready to pay $39.99 (U.S.) for Norton Antivirus 2009 and get the "bonus" IAC software included?
- Attention: Anti-spyware Coalition and to All Security Scanner software vendors
- Ask.com's Privacy Tool Tracks Users, Groups Tell Feds
- Ask.com Will Keep Your Secrets (Although Its Advertisers Won't)
- Ask.com Complaint (PDF from Epic.org)
- Ask Jeeves Toolbar Installs via Banner Ads at Kids Sites
- Current Practices of IAC/Ask Toolbars
- Dealing with Unwanted Spyware and Parasites
- Installers Hall of Shame
- Not happy with this: Symantec partners with Ask.com
- SecurityGarden Posts Labeled "Ask"
- The Ad / Content Separation, and Ask.com Advertising at MySpace
- Would you like Toolbar with your Software Order?
Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...