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How can I be sure software updates are legit?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 15, 2013 10:04 AM PST

How can I be sure software updates are legit?

Almost every week I get an authentic looking message telling me that
an update for one program or another is available. Adobe Flash Player
seems to be the most frequent. I blindly go ahead and click the
Install button, but have become nervous that maybe one day some hacker
will replicate the format to disguise an unpleasant surprise that will
install something that will ruin my whole system. How can I be sure
that what I'm accepting or installing is the real deal? There are
several well-known antivirus/antispyware/firewall programs running on
my computer - should they provide all of the protection needed to fend
off that sort of attack? Thanks!

--Submitted by: Ken C.
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some you can trust
by Grandpa-Engineer / February 15, 2013 11:42 AM PST

First, if you are running multiple anti-virus/malware clients you are either much too paranoid or much too easily swayed by those that sell such things. There is an industry that does quite well by keeping consumers scared. Beyond that, you have to make certain choices with software, just like with the rest of your life. Be brave! You can trust updates from MS, Oracle and Adobe in my humble opinion. There are others too, I am sure. If something comes your way via an automatic updater that is part of a legitimate installation of software, trust it. On the other hand, if you get offers for much of anything from unsolicited sources ignore it. In that case, the odds are very much against you. One other point: I have never seen one 'pop up' during an internet session that is worthy of my consideration, another fact of life. On the other hand, you can just stay scared and paranoid and buy all sorts of things that enrich others and don't do you much good. Like I said: choices.

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Adobe can't be trusted
by ElizabethRE / February 22, 2013 12:20 PM PST
In reply to: some you can trust

I have a Mac and a good while back I downloaded an Adobe Flash update. There was NO difference in the appearance of this update EXCEPT that it was a virus. So, no we shouldn't trust automatic-updaters.

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.Adobe can't be trusted
by MrGee43 / February 23, 2013 12:20 AM PST
In reply to: Adobe can't be trusted

Elizabeth, you should know that Apple does not support any Adobe products! I have used & trusted Adobe products for over 20 years & have NEVER had a problem with updates, so don't blame the legitimate manufacturer of reliable software.

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I trusted them too
by ElizabethRE / February 23, 2013 12:32 AM PST

I've used and trusted Adobe for over 20 years too that's why when it happened I was so shocked. Adobe knew about the virus and did not take the steps to inform people or stop the virus until way too late. That's why I say we simply cannot trust any automatic updates/downloads. And we always need to be cautious.

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I'm Suprised
by bigbear639 / February 23, 2013 1:51 AM PST
In reply to: I trusted them too

For years MAC claimed that it is impossible to be attacked by any Virus, it could pass one on to Non MAC Computers via attachments or email. How has this changed, because I still see MAC Users making the same claim and trying to make MS users look like idiots. In most cases when I need any Adobe Updates I go to Adobe website and download from there, because often if you have any program on your computer that may be using adobe those links from adobe popups won't let you install even if the program is closed. If you are not sure if it is a legitimate update go to the publishers website.

You can trust MS windows updates from the Control Center.

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Do you agree that Apple does not support any Adobe products?
by gidowu / February 23, 2013 11:50 AM PST
In reply to: I trusted them too

If you are using Mac then your claim may not be valid.

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What does this even mean?
by waytron / February 23, 2013 7:38 PM PST

"Apple does not support any Adobe products..."

Are you telling me that the millions of user of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom should not continue to use them on their Mac???

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Dont blame Adobe?!?!
by pduran2 / February 24, 2013 10:43 PM PST

Don't blame Adobe? Adobe has a long and distinguished history of being a vector for malware to infect your computer.

People should most certainly blame Adobe. It's a very popular way for malware to get onto your computer.

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Beware of changes
by Cookeefried / February 25, 2013 11:36 PM PST
In reply to: Adobe can't be trusted


Be carefull when you need to execute a file (on PC)
or to install a file yourself (on Mac).
Normally Adobe updates automatic, I think.

Cheers, Fred

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I agree, but...
by sercnet / February 22, 2013 5:20 PM PST
In reply to: some you can trust

Do You remember the way to say: "Trusting is good, but not trusting is BETTER!"?... I don't really think that buying an antivirus and/or antimalware software you're only enriching other dishonest people! Best Regards.

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Thank you for your sage advice.
by kelizan / February 23, 2013 8:24 AM PST
In reply to: some you can trust

Having been hit with a virus once many years ago I'm more than willing to confess to being "too paranoid", but as for gullibly enriching persuasive snake-oil salesmen - Nah! All AV, firewall and malware protection I use is free (for example, AVG and Ad-aware), so they don't extract a cent from me, and I have lived happily ever after, virus free - touch wood.

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Learning the hard way - AVG
by mopilot827 / February 25, 2013 2:10 AM PST

I used AVG Free for several years, and got an email a year ago December notifying me that an update was available. It looked EXACTLY like ones I had received from them in the past, so I proceeded to run the update. After rebooting, I experienced a blue screen failure and my entire system was corrupted by a root-kit virus, destroying the zero sector of the hard drive and rendering the computer useless. So, my warning is similar to others: do not trust anyone or anything and do not run an update from one of these notifications. I have since gone straight to the company's website to first verify whether there is in fact an updated version of the software available. Only after I have confirmed this, and have created a complete system backup, do I run the update. And use a backup service such as BackBlaze or Carbonite to save at least your data, music, photos, etc. It is cheap insurance. Call me paranoid if you want, but this is the only way to protect yourself from the sob's out there who have nothing better to do than to try making the rest of ours lives miserable.

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AVG and Adware
by iss2468 / February 25, 2013 9:43 AM PST

Can you share some of the sources of free anti-virus and anti-malware software?



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sources of free anti-virus and anti-malware
by mal_aus / February 25, 2013 3:11 PM PST
In reply to: AVG and Adware
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Sorry, this may be more direct
by mal_aus / February 25, 2013 3:15 PM PST
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Free Products
by IDnewbie / March 2, 2013 11:05 AM PST
In reply to: AVG and Adware

The problem with so many of the free products is that they do not offer real-time protection. If you plug in a USB drive and right click on it to scan for malware you typically do not see that option with the free products. The free products are typically detection after the fact and removal if that is even possible.

I typically buy a pro edition of the products so that I have real-time protection. The best course of action is not to get a virus to begin with. Isn't $30 worth not having to spend hours reloading all of your software because of a virus problem?

Also, just last week I added a second product to have added security. I use Zone Alarm on my families computers and they all seemed fine after scans. I read an article about Malwarebytes often picks up junk that others might not. After installing a trial version of it on my wife's computer it picked up 18 pieces of potentially harmful junk on it. I am not paranoid but I believe in covering the bases. I have better things to do than reload software because a corrupted drive.

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You Really Think So?
by flipvideo / March 19, 2013 10:44 AM PDT
In reply to: some you can trust

The last "Java" update contained a Trojan.

So much for trusting the "prominent" ones.

With so many dweebs having too much time on their hands that they have plenty of energy and time to plot using their useless lives to bother the rest of us BEFORE they gravitate to trying to be famous (in their own demented minds) like Mark David Chapman or like Adam Lanza (who plotted over 5 years to commit mayhem on little kids which means gun control is totally useless with them), we should always go to the source site for updates.

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You can't always be sure.
by The Masked Villain / February 15, 2013 11:48 AM PST

You can't always be sure that the updates are legit. That's why you should backup your computer regularly. Get yourself an external hard drive, and set up a backup schedule. I backup my computer every Sunday, so if something does go wrong, or I'm hit with a virus, I always have a recent backup to reinstall. A good one terabyte, external hard drive, and backup software should cost you no more than $200.00. Believe me it's a cheep price to pay for peace of mind. I hope this helps you.

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Is that necessary, though?
by OMIGHTY1 / February 15, 2013 3:02 PM PST

Why buy a recovery software for such a large amount of money, when Windows already has a built-in one? Besides, I'm sure there is MUCH cheaper backup software out there, right?

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There is always a cost
by richteral / February 16, 2013 10:04 PM PST

All depends on how much you value your stuff - if a loss of data is of little consequence, you need not even back up. However, if such loss would cause you pain, then making backups one way or another is desirable. Both your computer and its OS have limitations in this area (read: risks). Buying a huge external HDD plus good backup software can be just the ticket, with a price tag. Consider the potential level of pain, and cough up accordingly. You get what you pay for.

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There is always a cost
by DARETOEXPOSE / February 21, 2013 7:54 AM PST
In reply to: There is always a cost

Always back you data up on a usb or cdrw to prevent this pain.

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Re backup software
by Rick75230 / February 23, 2013 5:48 AM PST
In reply to: There is always a cost

You don't need to buy any backup software. The bottom line is there are now only three hard disk manufacturers. In practice you will have at least one internal or external hard disk from either Seagate or Western Digital. Both have Acronis True Image as a free download but you must have at least one drive from that manufacturer on the system for the software to run. The only negative is that you can't back up just particular files or folders with the OEM versions. But you can just use some form of Copy and Paste for that. At work we use RichCopy, which is free from Microsoft. It lets you set up multiple copy streams simultaneously and if a file is locked, etc., it just ignores that file and checks again later, whereas Window's built-in copy-and-paste routinely stops if a file can't be copied. In fact, we run two instances of RichCopy simultaneously on the same server, one backing up files from that server and the second instance backing up files from the other server, both onto a Dell hard-disk cartridge on the main server.

Over the past several months I've had two Win 8 crashes where I had Acronis backups. In one case I was able to restore the entire disk from the backup and in the other I couldn't although there was nothing wrong with the backup. I don't know the reason for the difference. Both were to SSD's.

One thing nice about True Image is that although the backups can be highly compressed, files and folders can be accessed like any other files.

A few months ago I bought the latest version of PKZip from PKWare. If I just have to back up certain folders I use that until I do a full disk backup. If you download the trial version and then wait a few days you'll get an email offering a 50% discount, which comes to $15. I haven't tried any of the freeware Zip programs but they may work for backups too. I already had an older version of PKZip but wanted to make a single Zip file with about 145GB of data and I didn't want to risk waiting several hours for the data to be Zipped and then possibly be told either the file could not be saved or the Zip was corrupted.

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Back up software
by short65 / February 22, 2013 10:54 PM PST

Yes there are cheaper backups out there. I purchased an external hard drive 1 terabyte about two years ago for $99.99 and it is 2.0 - 3.0 USB speed capable.

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by oregonlj / February 23, 2013 4:34 AM PST


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You don't need to trust those messages
by PCuser / February 15, 2013 12:08 PM PST

The best way to upgrade your software is to click out of those notices and (1) go to the "Help" button in the software that is installed on your own computer to search for updates, or (2) go to the software developer's web site for updates. That way you will avoid the malware.

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by taylor12777 / February 16, 2013 5:49 AM PST

this is exactly what i am tryin to say in my reply.also

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Finding program updates in Help?
by roxyhawk / February 22, 2013 7:48 PM PST

I went to Help on my IE9 toolbar, and the only choices were "Online Support", "IEhelp" and "About IE". Where do I find these software updates? I need more details. I just blindly updated Adobe Flashplayer tonight, and it seemed like it hadn't been that long since I did it last time, so I was "pondering" a little about that, but did it anyway. Then I see this email about this topic from Cnet. I recently downloaded AVG from your site, and it seems a little out of control. I already have McAfee that is included free from ATT, so I only planned to scan with it occasionally. It seems to be in startup, although I turned all "protection" off from it. It automatically seems to be doing things as well. The more I try to be careful, the more things seem to screw up.

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Two antiviruses?
by riveresk / February 22, 2013 8:34 PM PST

You wrote: "I recently downloaded AVG from your site, and it seems a little out of control. I already have McAfee that is included free from ATT," if you've got two AV apps on one computer, they'll fight each other because each one will think the other's a nasty. Keep the one you prefer and uninstall the other.

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IE9 updating
by 2e2m2t / February 22, 2013 10:25 PM PST

IE9 updates through "Windows Update".

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The AVG Trap
by bigbear639 / February 23, 2013 2:02 AM PST

You failed to uncheck the Include AVG or sometimes other search and toolbars. That is a common error. Once you install AVG it is a nightmare to get rid of. Uninstall it from Windows it will still be in other browsers like firefox or google and has to be removed from there. CNet is notorious for including these little install when you install any program. I Use Advanced uninstaller Pro Free from CNet or the vendors website. Watch out for that little box on them that ask you to blindly install even legitimate programs and use the 2nd option and uncheck all options.

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