Tuesday, June 22, 2004

and now for a lesson in spotting snake oil

take a look at

CyberScrub AntiVirus 1.0 - FAQ

specifically the paragraph:

Does CyberScrub AntiVirus have all the “bells and whistles” of other products?
No, those in most cases are just efforts to try to stand out from a field of very similar products. CyberScrub AntiVirus is designed to “install and forget”, providing a secure environment from viruses, worms, Trojans and more. All major features are included: you can have CAV run in the background providing constant protect or you have the ability to scan selected files, folders or drives upon demand.


did you notice the words "install and forget"? they were so helpful they even put it in quotes to help it stand out... anti-virus software (theirs included) is not some kind of magical security dust that you can sprinkle on your computer and have it protect you without any further effort on your part... they cannot actually deliver on the promise of an anti-virus that's so good all you need to do is "install and forget", no one can... further, by promoting the idea that they can do so they are creating a false sense of security in their customers... in spite of the fact that they are offering a good anti-virus scanning engine, they are contributing to the virus problem instead of being part of the solution by these types of actions...

review question 1: what is it called when a salesman makes impossible claims?
answer: "snake oil"

then there's this paragraph:

Can I use several antiviral programs at the same time?
If you are talking about Scanners then YES, you can first check a file with one of them, then with another. As for Monitors (resident online scanners) you should be warned that two or more active resident Monitors working simultaneously can cause conflicts. In most cases this leads to the false positives or unstable working. So it is not recommended to use two Monitors at the same time.

now this is a subtle point, i know, but a resident scanner and an online scanner are two completely different things... a resident scanner is one that stays resident in memory for as long as your computer is on, scanning things on your computer as you access them, trying to protect you from triggering an infection... an online scanner is one that runs in the context of your browser and just does a scan of your entire system and then quits when it is done... there's no such thing as a "resident online scanner"... mixing up terms like this makes me think they don't know what they're talking about - how about you?

review question 2: who throws technical terms together without regard for meaning in order to confuse the audience with credible sounding babble, thereby creating the illusion that they know far more about the subject than the audience?
answer: snake oil salesmen

but wait, there's more!

check out this thread that google has kindly archived for posterity (cyberscrub thread) - you'll find the cyberscrub folks pretending to be satisfied cyberscrub customers! those wacky cyberscrub people...