Author Topic: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition  (Read 4051 times)

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Offline danielsoft

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The user is using Avast 5 on a netbook, which is used only when she is travelling (approx. once every two months).

When she boots the computer, the Windows Security Center (XP SP3) says, that the antivirus is too old/not updated (this is not the exact phrase, since it's Czech version of Windows).

If it were my netbook, I would just ignore the warning, but the non-technical user cannot distinguish between bogus warning like this and real threat and thus she is alarmed.

What happens is probably a race condition:
1) the computer boots
2) Avast needs a lot of updates, since it was last booted two months ago
3) inbetween, the Windows Security Center kicks in and whines, that the antivirus is not updated properly

Solution could be:
1) when Avast is receiving updates, it should not tell Windows "I am not updated" - but I don't know the internals of Windows Security Center, so I don't know if some polling happens or what the mechanisms are
2) turning off antivirus alerts in Windows Security Center is not a good idea, because we still need to be warned about the real errors
3) maybe there is some configuration option or registry key I can tweak: any ideas?

p.s. after all the updates are applied, the Windows Security Center goes to "OK" state again, but it's too late, it already alerted the user.

Offline Ashish Singh

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2011, 03:10:29 AM »
Well I failed to know whats ur problem? U are using a computer once in two months and are really worried about how it works??? Very funny.. I feel no harm in the notification...
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Offline DavidR

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2011, 03:24:36 AM »
I don't believe avast actually tells the WSC anything, it gets its information directly from the avast files. Avast will also detect that the database is out of date after 7 days.

So either you periodically update the database or what happens is avast believes the time frame between when it was last updated and now is too large to do incremental updates. So you may have to download the complete database, which is in excess of 30MB. So it may be worthwhile to just boot the netbook periodically, weekly or fortnightly to a) recharge the battery and b) update avast, etc.

You could obviously have the WSC not monitor the AV status, but that in itself is a security risk.

I would also suggest that you update to the latest version of avast 6.0.1000.
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doktornotor

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2011, 09:48:23 AM »
Obvious solution not mentioned by OP: disable WSC. "Security" gimmicks that nag user and are misused by malware authors in social engineering way to spread their rogue AVs are not really of much value to the users. Avast! has it own diagnostics, and so do all other decently written AVs. A diagnostics that does not rely on the heavily broken and flaky WMI thing.
WSC does not provide anything useful here in respect to protection.

Offline Zyndstoff (aka Steven Gail)

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2011, 09:53:36 AM »
Obvious solution not mentioned by OP: disable WSC. "Security" gimmicks that nag user and are misused by malware authors in social engineering way to spread their rogue AVs are not really of much value to the users. Avast! has it own diagnostics, and so do all other decently written AVs. A diagnostics that does not rely on the heavily broken and flaky WMI thing.
WSC does not provide anything useful here in respect to protection.

+1

Additionally I think it would be great to have the Avast task symbol display any out-of-date information.
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Offline SafeSurf

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2011, 11:07:20 AM »
I think it would be great to have the Avast task symbol display any out-of-date information.
This would be nice as now you get this information only in the Avast GUI.  However I have to agree with David's post #2 on this.  Yes, it is a nag to get the Windows Security alert, but it is there for a reason.  And the OP can simply update the machine periodically or deal with this alert while the machine is updating...no big deal and the problem is resolved.
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Offline Zyndstoff (aka Steven Gail)

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2011, 11:19:42 AM »
I think it would be great to have the Avast task symbol display any out-of-date information.
This would be nice as now you get this information only in the Avast GUI.  However I have to agree with David's post #2 on this.  Yes, it is a nag to get the Windows Security alert, but it is there for a reason.  And the OP can simply update the machine periodically or deal with this alert while the machine is updating...no big deal and the problem is resolved.

That's why I think the display within Avast Symbol would be great - you could then really skip the WSC AV part, because functionality is within Avast.
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Offline DavidR

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2011, 02:45:56 PM »
The avast6 tray icon will show out of data definitions and program as far as I'm aware though I have never tested it (having never left my system off for long enough).

Check the Settings, Status Bar section for what is monitored.

Problem being the OP is referring to avast5.
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Offline Zyndstoff (aka Steven Gail)

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2011, 02:50:27 PM »
The avast6 tray icon will show out of data definitions and program as far as I'm aware though I have never tested it (having never left my system off for long enough).

Check the Settings, Status Bar section for what is monitored.

Problem being the OP is referring to avast5.

"Status Bar" = "Tray Symbol"...?
So the Status Bar settings also cover the tray symbol?
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Offline DavidR

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2011, 03:39:02 PM »
That is where the information is displayed, not that it covers the tray 'icon,' e.g. the Yellow triangle with the ! exclamation point indicates that one or more of those conditions, that are monitored is present.

So instead of getting the normal avast tray icon that rotates, you get one with an avast icon with a Yellow triangle with the ! exclamation point (doesn't rotate), see image.

That could be one or more of the shields not started, or the virus definitions out of date (greater than 7 days old I believe).
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 03:43:24 PM by DavidR »
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Offline Zyndstoff (aka Steven Gail)

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 08:11:35 PM »
That is where the information is displayed, not that it covers the tray 'icon,' e.g. the Yellow triangle with the ! exclamation point indicates that one or more of those conditions, that are monitored is present.

So instead of getting the normal avast tray icon that rotates, you get one with an avast icon with a Yellow triangle with the ! exclamation point (doesn't rotate), see image.

That could be one or more of the shields not started, or the virus definitions out of date (greater than 7 days old I believe).

I just wasn't sure if the settings apply only to the GUI Status Bar or also to the Tray Icon Behaviour, because Tray Icon is not mentioned in the descriptiuon or help pages to the settings.

Thanks for making that clear to me.  8)
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Offline DavidR

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2011, 08:18:53 PM »
You're welcome.

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Offline Nesivos

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2011, 10:37:39 PM »
Even if you only use a computer once every two months the software on it should be updated weekly or every two weeks at the most.

Windows updates at least once a month and a number of programs update more frequently than that.

Turning on your computer once every two months is a recipe for trouble.
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Offline Ashish Singh

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2011, 04:16:20 PM »
Well today I reinstalled avast from scratch and it was 6.0.1021 which was one month old And I updated through GUI but when I had one month old database avast sys trayicon was then also rotating and there was no exclamation mark
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Offline Asyn

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Re: Windows Security Center and lots of updates: a race condition
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2011, 04:19:18 PM »
Well today I reinstalled avast from scratch and it was 6.0.1021...

This was a quite buggy release... ;)
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