There has been a lot of coverage in the tech-related blogosphere lately regarding a specific threat called (among other things) Trojan.Gpcoder.F. Once this malware has infected your machine it searches for files on your system that could potentially be important to you (based on the extension of the file) and then encrypts the data using a 1024 bit key (technically it creates an encrypted copy of the file and deletes the original.) Once your data has been encrypted, the malware informs you that your files are being held for ransom along with details on how to buy the decryptor program to...
The Boston Globe had an article recently on how difficult it is to be anonymous in the internet age. Reading the article compelled me to perform my every-once-in-a-while "googling" of myself. What I found was pretty interesting.
First of all, I'm not keeping a very low profile. There were approximately 23,000 responses to the search query on my name (541 if you put my name in quotations.) Most of the front page stuff was computer related. A post on an old blog of mine about a web programming framework; several links to my posts on the Norton Protection Blog; a patch I submitted to an...
I recently explained how the Smart Scheduler feature in Norton 360 works to stay out of your way in deciding when to run tasks. The scheduler is so effective that it's common for users to wonder if we're ever performing scans. Neil Rubenking even noted in his PC Magazine review of Norton 360 that "It's so quiet you might begin to wonder if it's doing anything at all."
We want to shed some light on this for anyone (myself included) who can't resist the urge to dig into how things work. We've created a small widget that shows you everything going on behind the scenes:
You can download it he...
One of the best parts of my job is not just laying out the strategy for Symantec's Consumer Business, but getting out and telling people where Norton is headed in six months, 12 months, or even two years. Why is this so rewarding? Because we've got a rich and compelling story to tell. We aren’t just talking about security software — we're looking at solving consumer problems in brand new ways. Recently, I've spent some time sharing our vision with some of the key people in our industry. Neil Rubenking at PC Magazine was one of our stops and following our conversation, he put out a compreh...
Jaqcqui Cheng from Ars Technica has a great article today about the latest email scam design to trick people into giving up their personal information (including social security number and mother's maiden name), this time, the email is supposedly from the iTunes store and links to a poorly crafted site. You should check out Robert Vamosi's article on Cnet about this as well.
Okay, so this is really nothing new, we talk about phishing scams all the time. However, like Jacqui writes in her article, this is interesting because Apple users are getting targeted. iTunes is cross platform, lot...
I was surfing the web tonight and I came across an article on Scientific American. The author asked some friends for permission to break into their bank accounts and then went to work trying to steal their identity. The ease at which he was able to do so is startling. He first used a variety of techniques to gather information including reading the target's blog and googling them and then he used that information to break into the user's email accounts via password resets. Once he had access to the target's email he would be able to receive password reset emails from their bank accoun...
While building the first release of Norton 360 in 2006, we decided we didn't want to use the typical task scheduler so many other products use to run weekly antivirus scans. Remembering to keep your computer on "every Wednesday night at 2am" is a pain, so we set out to build a better wheel.
Norton 360 introduced Symantec's smart task scheduler. The new scheduler doesn't rely on a fixed schedule - instead it works around yours. Basically, Norton 360 is always looking for times that you're away from your desk and uses those opportunities to perform the routine maintenance tasks it needs to k...
It seems like having a computer equates to having PC problems. We've all been there. You are sitting at your desk and your computer's speed is crawling while you are trying to get something done. Very frustrating. It's not clear what the problem is exactly, but it is clear that your computer isn't running as fast as it use to. You think maybe it's all of the music and photos you've downloaded? Or maybe it's just the fact that your computer is a couple of years old?
It's time to put an end to slow computers and PC frustrations. There's a free new application from NortonLive that wil...
I've been doing a lot of thinking about Cloud Computing lately. This was sparked, in large part, by Symantec's internal engineering conference, Cutting Edge, as well as a number of things I've been reading. Cloud Computing is shaping up to be one of the "next big things" that we are all going to be hearing a lot about over the next couple of years. In fact, Microsoft just announced "Azure," their cloud computing services platform. Microsoft Azure is positioned to bring cloud computing to the development masses. Anyone will be able to write cloud-aware applications and run them hosted i...
A year ago we reached out to the gamer community at DreamHack in Sweden to find out what they wanted from their anti virus software and more specifically what they didn’t want. Their biggest request was for anti virus that didn’t use up precious PC resources. They also asked for security software that wouldn’t interrupt them when they were gaming. Some of them even asked for anti virus that would automatically change its mode of operation to accommodate them appropriately when they were gaming versus when they were surfing. Of course we could have just walked down the hall and talked to s...
Are you Naked?
Exploits from the latest Microsoft Vulnerability seen in the wild
Which is worse, being seen
naked running down the street or having a vulnerable computer leaving you
exposed to attacks from drive-by downloads? It is probably a matter of opinion (or local
laws.) Unfortunately, I think people are
more concerned about being seen naked than whether they have a computer that is
vulnerable. Don’t get caught being
exposed by having a vulnerable system!
In my previous blog
post, I talked about the way that malware is able to get onto your
system. Exploits from drive...
To our Norton Customers:
Symantec is pleased to announce the official release of our Norton 2009 products. This year, we’ve made performance improvement the key focus of the 2009 Norton product line. Virtually everyone in the company - including executive management, product engineering, Quality Assurance, design, and development - knew that this was our main mission ever since our first 2009 engineering planning sessions. Since then, we’ve questioned, agreed, and disagreed to many of the ideas and concepts that came up, but we were consistently guided by our shared vision and dedicatio...
Whether it’s defragging, cleaning and repairing the hard drive, maintaining your PC with a one-click checkup tool, or getting rid of unwanted Internet clutter, Norton SystemWorks delivers a comprehensive toolkit for faster, up-to-the-minute performance boosting utility tools.
One of the most significant improvements in Norton SystemWorks is that it delivers the enhanced performance of Norton AntiVirus 2009. You may have read about how we reengineered our 2009 products to make them the fastest and most up-to-the-minute security solutions. Norton SystemWorks 12.0 customers now save time w...
The Norton Pulse Updates Feature
It’s a simple truth: The faster virus definitions are received, the better the protection is for the computer. Norton 2009 has added a new technology, called Norton Pulse Updates, which downloads new virus definitions almost as soon as they are created, without sacrificing reliability or performance.
When new virus definitions are created, they are posted right away as small Pulse Updates. Every five minutes, Norton LiveUpdate downloads the latest Pulse Updates and they are incorporated into the customer’s PC virus protection immediately.
In January of this year, Symantec became a founding member of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO). Symantec and about 40 of the leading academics, reviewers, testers and vendors in the security industry joined forces to form the organization dedicated to helping improve the objectivity, quality and relevance of anti-malware technology testing. Since then, we’ve met several times and shared numerous spirited debates, but something we have agreed upon since our inception is the charter of the organization: · Providing a forum for discussions related to the testing...
This past weekend I was joined by an international group of journalists and bloggers for a Zero-Gravity flight to “blast off” the launch of the Norton 2009 security products. This 18-person “band of brothers” boarded the G-Force One in Las Vegas, prepared to float, flip and fly the way orbiting astronauts do. One word describes the experience - awesome. But most people want to know, what in the world does a Zero-G flight have to do with security software?
And the answer is simple…we designed the 2009 Norton products with a mantra of "zero-impact performance". Meaning, we want our softw...
Every day, corporations, governments, and individuals must live with security vs. performance tradeoffs. An extra layer of security in any situation, digital or otherwise, always has a performance impact. A simple (and probably overused) example is airport security. Standing in an airport security line is time consuming, but provides the level of security mandated by the government. We are mandated to trade performance (walking straight to the terminal) for the security provided by the inspections. Overzealous security can cause bottlenecks, which inhibits daily activities. Eliminat...
You remember the Shoemaker’s lesson, don’t you? It’s always the shoemaker’s children go barefoot. And so it was that after thirty years of writing about PCs and wagging my finger at those who tempted fate by not backing up regularly, I did it myself. The entire episode has made me feel a little addle-brained, a lot chagrined, and like a cautionary tale.
It started when I bought the new Dell XPS—fully loaded. When was the last time you moved three years of work from one PC to another? Seriously, it consumed my free time for about three weeks until I had things the way I wanted them. You...
Hello, my name is Kunal Karandikar and I am a Manager on Symantec’s Consumer Products Engineering team. My colleagues and I are excited about Norton Insight, a brand new feature to the 2009 Norton product line. There have been a lot of questions about how it works and what it does. In fact, there have been a few articles published recently that have compared Norton Insight with other technologies which we think are actually somewhat different, and believe do not really match up well to our new feature. We will hopefully be able to clear up some of the confusion and misconceptions within th...
In the old days, practicing “safe Internet” meant staying in the good online neighborhoods so you didn’t get infected. Today, almost any website you visit could be a landmine leading you to having your system compromised. We all remember the quote from Austin Powers where Dr. Evil says “One MILLION dollars”. Now imagine a techie version of Dr. Evil, let’s call him “Dr. Drive-by” saying in that same tone “One MILLION websites compromised”. Drive-by download outbreaks can be measured in how many occurrences a particular domain name occurs in Google searches. Recent reports from SANS Interne...
Today, the Norton team is launching an exciting new beta offering called Norton Safe Web, a Web site rating service that makes it easy for users to differentiate safe sites from malicious ones. Once downloaded, the beta will provide visual site ratings within everyday search results from top search sites like Google, Yahoo! and Live Search- so you can keep using your preferred search tool and don't have to take any extra steps. Additionally, due to the nature of Web threats such as drive-by-downloads, it will also warn users before they visit a site that contains malicious content.
In recent years, Consumer Reports (CR) decided to take on reviewing security software in addition to the scores of energy drinks, vacuum cleaners and toasters they put through the paces annually. Consumer Reports has faced some challenges in this new endeavor; you might remember they generated a fair bit of industry discussion based on their security testing practices. Well-known organizations like McAfee, Sunbelt and others voiced concerns at test methodology that fell well outside the industry norm. Last year, we were – to put it mildly – shocked by the information and results published ...
So, this is a bit of a deviation from our standard security-focused articles, but given how you can't go 15 minutes without hearing about the iPhone 3G, I think it's appropriate to bring it up. I have an original iPhone (4GB!) and was able to successfully download the new iPhone software before the mad rush and figured I would share some observations after a full week or so of using the software.First off, I admit it: I haven't been this excited about computers since I got my first Mac in 1985. Apple's App Store (accessible via iTunes and through the iPhone itself) brings back that sense...
Our team team hit a big milestone this week by reaching beta of our 2009 Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus products. As many of you know, beta is a pre-release version of a Symantec product that is available for public testing before the final version is released. We rely on the valuable feedback of our community to evaluate how the product performs in "real world" environments. Additionally, it is an opportunity to be among the first to experience our latest products before they are finalized and released. We monitor the beta feedback closely and it is an important source of f...
Today, the Norton team is excited to introduce Norton Labs, an online community where users can download new security technologies and share input directly with developers-- ultimately helping to shape our future products and features.
We created Norton Labs to foster a dialogue with our customers and bring them into our development process. It gives us an outlet to showcase technology under development and get valued feedback from our most sophisticated users. Also, Norton Labs gives us the flexibility to introduce key functionality outside of our standard development cycle.
Based on ...
I don't know about you, but growing up The Incredible Hulk was one of my favorite comic books. I always loved the raw nature of the Hulk and his crazy rampages and willingness to take on just about anything from tanks and mutants to other superheroes in the Marvel universe. The new Hulk movie premieres on the big screen this weekend and I'm excited to see Edward Norton bring my favorite character to life. Closer to home, our Norton team partnered up with this summer blockbuster and is offering up some pretty decent loot (think 52" SHARP LCD TV) -- the details of which can be found at this ...
I was just reading a story about Microsoft’s new subscription software package – Microsoft Equipt – and I have to say I was baffled to see the new “post-Bill Gates” Microsoft continuing to push these tired, old bundles. Drawing consumers in with the promise of enhanced productivity but essentially delivering a hodge podge of Microsoft technologies that lack consumer value and limit choice, Equipt looks less about providing a compelling value proposition and more about increasing Office revenue.
For many folks, backing up their data is a lot like flossing. It's a chore and not the most pleasant way to spend a few minutes. You know it's important for good personal or computer hygiene, but you probably don't do it as often as you should. But once teeth start falling out or you lose wedding pictures, contacts, and tax records due to a computer crash, you become a lot more diligent with your flossing and/or your backing up. In fact, I'd wager that backing up is even easier than flossing now.Here's a quick video on why it's important to back up your most important files and how...
This is where the magic happens...WWDC08 I was up in San Francisco last week for the Apple WorldWide Developer's Conference (WWDC08) and I figured I would talk a bit about it.Now, the specifics of the show have been blogged to death, I am sure (some good writeups here and here), but a few themes really struck me:1 - We are all basically experiencing a fairly incredible transition, thanks in no small part to the iPhone. Yes, so-called Smartphones have been around for awhile, but it is clear that the iPhone has captured the imagination of people who would otherwise not care at all about a ...
Right this very moment, the Norton software development team is hard at work making our products faster than ever. But hey, you know what else is fast AND just might help you save a little green on gas?! A brand-new Vespa!
At the newly launched http://www.NortonToday.com site, we’re looking for videos (maximum two minutes in length) that show someone or something getting “Nortonized.” Something that’s been “Nortonized” goes faster. It feels less bogged down. In short, it performs better than its competitors. If you have questions, don’t worry: our contest information kit explains eve...
“Whaling”. The term brings up images of Captain Ahab and harpoons. For some folks, “whaling” brings up thoughts of deep-pocketed Vegas high-rollers. Unfortunately, what I’m referring to is a product of today’s online threats. It’s a new phishing scam called “whaling” and its emerged to target the big fish – top-level corporate executives at leading companies and organizations. By doing some easy research up front, phishers can hit those at the top with surprising success because most corporate email conventions are easy to figure out (eg. First initial_last nameatcompanydotcom). These...
Does your security software do any of the following things?
• guard against virus activity before users see the effects of it
• keep hackers from stealing personal information
• prevent the system from becoming a zombie
• thwart phishing attacks from getting people to give away data
• stop malware and spyware from installing themselves
If your answer is yes (and I hope it is!) then your software is using up some amount of the system’s memory in order to keep you safe. Symantec’s mission is to make this protection impact as minimal as possible while st...
I have been out for a bit (conference, two weddings and lots of airports) but I just wanted to post the following video that we did discussing vulnerabilities, specifically the one that happened at CanSec West. Mighty props out to Rob Pegoraro's article that started the discussion in the first place!
Message Edited by jgonzales on 05-09-2008 03:00 PMMessage Edited by mikeromo on 05-15-2008 02:15 PM
I had the pleasure of meeting some of my Symantec Italy colleagues at a recent conference in Vegas, but I had no idea that Lee Majors was part of the team. I was delighted to see that the product development team’s focus on performance has been resonating internationally; here’s a link to a light-hearted video they created to showcase the bionic performance of Norton Internet Security 2008:
Message Edited by jgonzales on 05-21-2008 11:04 PM
As a youngster I was taught to think of history in terms that scream out for marble monuments and epic poetry. College did its best to break me of that tendency, and though I retain some of that boyish awe, I have come to appreciate the humanizing elements of history.
I like to remind myself as summer approaches by watching the musical 1776, about the drafting of the US Declaration of Independence. Aside from the fun it has with history, I also enjoy the lessons it offers for my day job. The play looks beyond the yellowed parchment with the odd penmanship and the huge signature of John...
I couldn’t tell you the first time I got Rickrolled. By now you’ve heard of it, from Google or the Nightly News to the guy two cubicles down who’s always late to the Internet party. Once, it was a surprise to click on what promised to be an election-year gaffe, a great deal on flash memory, or a review of the best chimichanga in West Los Angeles…only to be treated to that fine young man Rick Astley belting out “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
At first it’s perplexing. Then, perhaps for a nanosecond, amusing. By the time your mother-in-law with the Mac SE and 2400 baud dial-up AOL connection ...
There was a great article in the most recent issue of the Communications of the ACM entitled "The Psychology of Security: Why do good users make bad decisions?"
The main thrust of the article is to shed some light on the psychological process for decision making and how the process manifests itself when users are asked to make security decisions. Armed with this knowledge security software developers can make better decisions regarding what to present to a user and how these choices should be ultimately represented. I took away three key observations from the article:
First, the article po...
One of the most important features of our products is the ability for us to actually update them. The Mac team has been talking a lot about this lately, specifically: how best to keep users up to date without impacting them in any way?
Our updating process actually has quite a few steps:
1 - we launch a process that manages the updating (LiveUpdate)
2 - LiveUpdate checks the LiveUpdate servers (most of the time a Symantec server, but sometimes enterprise customers have a local LiveUpdate server that lives behind the enterprise firewall) and checks to see what updates are actually up there...
This Blog is dedicated to you - as a past, present or future user of our products. A large team of our product managers, engineering, testers and designers will regularly be posting directly to this blog. Each of us care passionately about security, and share the responsibility to design, develop and test the solutions that protect our customers.
It is my hope that, through this Blog, you will be able to hear directly from the people who are working on the Norton products. Through your feedback, whether it is frustrations, accolades, opinions or ideas about our products, I believe we c...
So, "Norton AntiVirus for Mac" has been around for a long time. Everyone seems to know it (alongside Norton Utilities for Mac, another topic for another time), but I gotta tell you, sometimes I think the name does the software a disservice. I mean, literally, as soon as I even say the name of the product, I inevitably hear, “But I thought Macs don’t get viruses!” Everywhere I get this. I was, no joke, getting a physical with my doctor, and when he was done he asked, “You know, I don’t mean to, well, whatever, but I thought that Macs didn’t get viruses.”Can I at least get my pants on before...
You just read an article title like this and think, ugh, more guilt about the clothes I wear, the food I buy, the car I drive. I feel the same way. I wish I could live more like Ed Begley Jr. and less like the Super Consumer I really am. The truth for me, and maybe for you too is that we have to pick a few areas to make new choices in order to help the environment. So maybe a better title is “Baby Steps to Going Green.” Small changes do matter and may be our best shot for lasting behavioral changes.
As I write this, workmen are sweating away in the unseasonably warm April weather (94 deg...
One of the exciting features of Norton products is their ability to be managed using Norton Account. Norton Account is great because it enables you to have complete control of all of your Norton Product Subscriptions and Keys in one convenient place. From Norton AntiVirus to Norton 360, you can update, view and edit all of their information. I know a lot of users find Norton Account great because it enables you to easily retrieve your product key for re-installation of your Norton product.
Norton Account allows you to log in from any computer in the world and instantly see the Norton ...
A recent PCMag.com blog post points out that the fake White House website whitehouse.org (no, I won't link you to it) has been hacked and is serving up malware. Part of the issue here is that many people attempting to go to the government website www.whitehouse.gov will accidentally mistype it as whitehouse.org. This is a specific case of a very real threat.
If you look at the list of the top 500 most popular websites according to Alexa.com. How many of these domain names are easily misspelled or mistyped? There is nothing stopping bad people from registering common typos of popular do...
As a follow-up to my earlier post this week, I noticed that Walt Mossberg posted today a helpful article and short video clip on "social engineering" that offers several specific tips on avoiding online scams. For example:
1. Never, ever click on a link embedded in an email that appears to come from a financial institution, even if it’s your own bank or brokerage and even if it looks official right down to the logo. The same goes for payment or auction services, like PayPal or eBay (EBAY).
More solid tips are available at Mossberg's All Things Digital site.
I also recommend related post...
Earlier today I came across a CNET blog entry wherein Ina Fried discusses the recent purchase of a refurbished iPod that arrived with a virus on it. Although Ina's article is about an iPod, it reinforces the reality of today's threat landscape: malware can come from anywhere.
As we look at the Genesis of Computer Viruses (see The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense, by Peter Szor), we can't help but remember the days when the vast majority of personal computer malware spread via physical interaction between computers, usually in the form of floppy disks. These early viruses operat...
I was surfing through some security news this weekend and ran into an interesting article on SecurityFocus. The article references a report that states that the reported damages from cybercrime and fraud rose by more then 20% from 2006 to 2007.
One interesting piece of information turned up by the report is that while identity theft is the most commonly cited example of cybercrime, other criminal activities like auction fraud are causing greater monetary damage.
This is alarming to me both as a consumer and as a developer of security software. As a consumer if I want to buy something on eB...
If you've recently purchased one of the 2009 Norton products, you may have noticed that this year, it came with something new - the Norton Recovery Tool.
To avoid confusion between the Norton Removal Tool (NRT) and the Norton Recovery Tool, I will instead refer to the solution as the Norton Recovery Disc (NRD).
For many of our users, this tool will never play a part in their security software experience, but for those who need it, it can be a life saver.
So what is the Norton Recovery Disc, and when would you ever need to use it?
The NRD is a bootable CD that can run scans and remove threa...