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why should i trust a not for profit virus scanner?

Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 1
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"there aint no such thing as free lunch".

will i get timely updates of virus definitions
if i use clamwin? what company operates and manages updates of virus definitions?
how is clamwin more reliable than the companies mcafee or symantec?
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Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 4636
Location: USA
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People developing not-for-profit (NFP) virus scanners are independent, and they they don't have any financial stake in the antivirus/virus process. There has been some conjecture that the commercial antivirus companies actually have a stake in the continued development of computer viruses. That is to say, if they found a way to eradicate/detect all computer viruses, then they would be out of a job. Personally, I don't believe this, and I don't think any rational person could/would say this about the antivirus industry as a whole. However, there may be a few industry participants like that.

Free open source software is also not dependent upon any one approach to problem solving. It is developed by an independent group, and it may be better in many respects because of this. I firmly believe that Microsoft has so many security "holes" because they are locked in to programming in a certain way. They also have to "protect" the Windows code and their market position--not to mention Gill Gates. Free software doesn't have such constraints.

The problem with NFP antivirus efforts is that the people involved are volunteers. They can't afford to do it full-time. They must have full-time jobs somewhere else, and it is hard to keep intensly fouced on the development of the antivirus software. ClamAV started up when another NFP effort lost focus. ClamAV has done a very good job in the time that it has been around. ClamWin was started later by another group/person to put a Windows interface on ClamAV. ClamWin is still dependent upon ClamAV for the antivirus engine/database, but they are developing code that is more appropriate for Windows since ClamAV is Linux-based. The ClamWin team has also done a good job in the two years that it has been around.

The ClamAV team updates their virus database more frequently than just most of the commercial antivirus people, and their response times are very good in identifying new viruses and incorporating them into their database. The ClamWin program benefits from this.

The quality of both ClamAV and ClamWin is good considering they have only been around a couple of years. ClamWin is not yet resident in memory, and ClamAV is not quite as advanced in its code as the commercial antivirus software, but most of the commercial antivirus software has been around at least ten years, so it should be better. If they can keep their focus, ClamAV will incorporate advanced hueristics and other non-signature based detection methods by late 2007. By that time, ClamWin should be resident in memory, and it will also benefit from the ClamAV development. Both programs should have an effect on commercial pricing at that point because they will be free and very competitive against their commercial competition. This might hold their pricing down as a result.

Of course, the commercial guys aren't standing still themselves. They are continuing to improve their products, but, primarily, they are parterning up with other security software--incorporating firewalls, antispyware, etc. with the antivirus function. They will probably always be a bit ahead of free software like ClamAV/ClamWin, but I like the free stuff and will chose that whenever possible, and I think it's worth contributing a few bucks every year to support good free software developed by independent volunteers.

I hope this helps you.

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why should i trust a not for profit virus scanner?
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