Saturday, May 12, 2007

Is Symantec a Joke or What?

Anti-Virus, My Aunt Fanny's Tuchus

An Account of a Real Virus Problem.

My very own personal computer network at home has about 1000 gigabytes on line. That's 6 machines hooked together with co-ax Ethernet, not even counting 4 or 5 spares. Naturally, that disk space is barely 1/2 full. As a rule of thumb, I like to keep disk space around 1/2 empty. Just as naturally, there is a lot of duplication. For instance, there is a full copy of MS Office on all the machines. All of my original software is on line and each machine can control every other machine. I like things to be at my fingertips.

Still I have a lot of original content to worry about. And over the years I've found how NOT to lose data without a maniacally rigid backup system.

Data loss is a major concern. And as data loss is supposed to rarely happen, I rarely get to hear a story from someone who did actually lose data through no fault of their own. More rare still, is a story from someone I actually know who caught a virus and had to deal with Symantec to clean up their system.

A friend of mine had a serious problem with a virus recently. I would like to report that his system was protected by strong anti-virus software and that everything is just fine and dandy. Unfortunately that is not the case.

His system WAS running Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus......but everything is NOT OK. I'll let you hear the story in his own words:

I'm running Norton Anti-Virus 2006. Last Monday I updated my virus definitions and all the program information on Symantec's web site.
Tuesday morning I turned on my computer and Norton popped up a Virus Alert message saying that I had a xxxx virus infection on my machine. It listed it as unfixable and unremovable so I wasn't sure quite what to do. I am very careful and never open unknown files or emails and don't visit the porn sites that Symantec later told me was one of the main places to get virus' and have been pretty religious about keeping my coverage current and up to date.

My first move, then, was to shut everything down and run a full system scan in which Norton found nothing - the Alert box had an "OK" pick box and when picked the box disappeared to just reappear 4 or 5 seconds later. I then went online to Symantec's web site and ran what they called a "Deep System Scan" - this found 2 Gain related pieces of spyware but did not identify the virus from the alert box.

Soooooooooooo, I got on the phone to Symantec and what a hassle - I had to go through 4 or 5 different tech people, each of whom had to have me tell them my entire story again, and some of whom were very difficult to understand, until I got someone who said he could fix my system - for $69.95 - I went ballistic and railed and railed and this guy said that there was nothing he could do and would not listen to my complaints that Norton had failed in the job I had bought it for and now they wanted to charge me to rectify their screw up. I might as well have been talking to the wall, he would not relent so I asked for his supervisor - that happened twice and finally the last one I talked to said he talked to HIS supervisor and they would fix me up for only $39.95 - sounded very much like the used car dealer bit of "Let me talk to my boss and see if we can do anything".

I finally said Ok and they walked me through setting my computer so their tech could take control remotely and fix it. After them calling back a couple of times saying they had lost the connection they finally did something different and at last got rid of the virus and notified me (by email, not a phone call as they told me they would) that my computer was clear and clean. It had taken them over 3 hours so I just said thank you and again told them how I felt that I had gotten screwed by Symantec.

Later I went in to my email program (Juno is what I use) and to my dismay found that in the process they had totally wiped out my email account - messages. directories with collections of data and my address book - it was as if I had just installed the program and was about to use it for the first time - to say that I was mad would be the world's greatest understatement. Again to the phone and up the line to supervisors all of whom told me that there was nothing that they could do and gave me the bull stories of how virus' attack computers and programs and essentially that it was my fault and there was nothing they could do. After getting no satisfaction from them I went into Windows Restore and was able to at least get my address book back from a week, or so, back and had to be happy with that.

At this point in time my computer is running fine but I dread opening another program that the Symantec boys screwed up. Well that's the story as I remember - wish I could remember the virus name but that is gone but the memory lingers on.

Can you believe this? Talk about corporate greed. What is Norton Anti-Virus then? Sounds to me like it's not an anti-virus program so much as a salesman sitting on your computer waiting to take you to the sales manager's office at the worst possible minute.

Sounds to me like you have no anti-virus software on your machine, but that Symantec is waiting for you to be in a real bind so that they can blackmail you into paying double for what you thought you already bought.

Has anyone else out there experienced this? More coming on this subject. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

His money back guaranteed newsletter "The Pitfalls of Unlocked Cell Phones and SIM Card Cloning" can be purchased by clicking here.