Avira: security or marketing?

March 20, 2013 · Filed Under In Depth, Security 

In Depth - A merciless lens pointed on the hot topics, passionate and detailed retrospectives, reflections beyond the appearances Trust in your antivirus software is important, especially if you have willingly paid to purchase and install it on the PC. When the antivirus starts to sell some sort of advertising message shown after an automatic update as security, however, the aforementioned trust begins to leave place to delusion and you ask yourself who is dumber: you paying to be mocked or the genius that decided to turn a protection software into a carrier of cheap marketing.

Such thought was inspired by the following message that was recently shown by Avira Antivirus Premium version 2013, an antimalware software that I have used with satisfaction for years and for which I regularly pay the license every 12 months.

Avira protects you from MiniDuke

The “MiniDuke malware” Avira is referring to is one of the sophisticated network attacks recently discovered by security researchers, an advanced persistent threat (APT) that according to Kaspersky’s analysis is a tool for state espionage with command&control servers in Panama and Turkey and the ability to open a backdoor for pushing other malware or acting on files and data present on the infected system. As for MiniDuke spreading, Kaspersky says than “59 unique victims in 23 countries” have been identified.

And yet Avira is eager to let me known that my computer is safe and protected from the MiniDuke claws, a malicious software designed with a definite purpose and spread through e-mails tailored for a victim that deals with international treaties, government affairs and this kind of things. I have tried to spot possible configuration options to cut such alerts out, but I have found nothing: Avira MUST let you know that you are protected from MiniDuke, even if the chance that your PC be infected with MiniDuke is science fiction to say the least.

Frankly, this is a dumb behavior unworthy of the sixth antivirus vendor worldwide. Nay, worse: this is pure, simple and dumb marketing, which fails the goal of “selling” an alleged superior security level because who receives it is perfectly able to recognize the sharp contrast between a malware “which steals from governments!” and his daily routine on the PC. Avira praises itself, however I can’t help but agree with the observations of Sophos security advisor Chester Wisniewski: the focus on APTs is “a horrible distraction“, the dangers for the common user (even though a “power user” like me) are others and they are legion.

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