The danger of automatic updates

Today I read this post on ZDnet about a buggy update for BitDefender Anti Virus software, which deleted several vital Windows files by falsely identifying them as malware. Users of BitDefender were apparently unable to start their machines and had to re-install their OS to get up and running.

My first reaction when I heard the news, was to feel bad, because BitDefender is regularly rated as one of the best antivirus softwares on most sites. My next reaction was alarm. I use Kaspersky Internet Security, which has a good reputation, but I notice that every day, it downloads updates automatically. In fact, this is touted as one of its strengths, that everyday new virus definitions are added, so that you are always ahead of the latest virus.

The news about Bit Defender made me wonder about  the merits of automatic updates vs. manual updates. Half the time, Windows, Adobe, ITunes and dozens of softwares are updating automatically. If there are any faulty updates, I would not want to blindly install them and get hit by the aftermath. Some news would be up about any issues before I downloaded, and I would be able to get  a fix. Home users need not be paranoid about daily updates, the world will not come to an end if you don't update your anti-virus software daily.

BTW, it is totally worth it to invest in a good Anti Virus Software. If you are price sensitive, do as I do and get together a group of friends. Then invest in 5 licences or 3 depending on the number of people. This way, you will pay as little as Rs.500-600 per machine, and that's a small price to pay for securing your PC.


  1. Thanks for the interesting piece.

    Auto update is a doubled edged sword. What is the guarantee that with manual update, you are shielded from buggy, hasty, faulty updates. It is quite possible that the offending update is released on the day of your scheduled update; then you have to wait for a week to get the fault rectified. I use chrome which is automatic update; and it is updated several times a day! It had a serious bug for a very long time - I could not post in yahoo groups - but this is now rectified.
    There is no substitute to good and clean habits; do not open unsolicited emails especially if they contain exe files or office files with macros or download from unknown sites.
    Strange or the ways of hackers; the latest news is - IE8 flaws were used to hack into windows 7.


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