Thursday, October 09, 2008

McAfee Security Center offers much "stricter" virus scan

On Oct. 9 McAfee replaced its Security Center on Home XP machines, at least. The new virus scan runs slower and contains a progress bar graph. It also is stricter, and, when going through the registry keys (HKLM’s and HKU’s at the end of the search) may pick up unwanted programs with a link to instructions for removal.

For example, it will flag the keys for the Viewpoint toolbar, which seems to be installed by a number of services. It is considered unwanted because it can transmit non-personal information to servers. Networktechs has an article on how to remove them, here.

It also will flag Nielsen rating services as potential “spyware”. I was recently contacted by Nielsen to participate in their survey of Internet surfing. I installed from their website, and found after a week that it was not transmitting data from my IP. I uninstalled it, but found McCafee found the registry key anyway (NetRatings). Nielsen is the company well known for television ratings. Advertisers are interested in sampling web users. I worked for NBC back in the 1970s and worked tangentially on a Nielsen Ratings project from the mainframe perspective, so I know that this is a legitimate activity. Of course, many users will not want to allow any outside marketing service to sample their activity.

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