A McAfee Mystery

Okay, today I am going to present my blog's readers with a small, interesting puzzle of sorts. I'm going to walk you through a series of pictures, and you have to guess what's wrong with them.

Here's picture number one. This is the main interface screen for McAfee SecurityCentre:

main interface screen for McAfee SecurityCentre

Here's picture number two. This is the menu that you get when you right-click on the McAfee SecurityCentre icon in Windows' Notification Area, which is how you open the main interface screen:

McAfee SecurityCentre Notification Area icon menu

Do you see it? There's something important in these two pictures. Spend a moment trying to see it. I'll leave some space between here and the next clue.

Here's picture number three. There's nothing important about this picture. It's just a small hint about what you might be looking for in pictures one and two:

Trying to remove McAfee SecurityCentre

Some of you have seen it by now and are smiling wryly, others are still baffled. Keep going.

Okay, here's your final hint. This pretty much gives it away. This is the screen you get when you try to uninstall McAfee SecurityCentre in Windows.

prompt to close McAfee SecurityCentre

Now go back and look at the first two images.

Have you guessed? No cheating!

Pop quiz, hotshot. How do you close McAfee SecurityCentre?

No, smart guy, I don't mean by going into the Task Manager and killing the McAfee SecurityCentre process or processes. No, I don't mean by going into MSCONFIG and disabling McAfee SecurityCentre from automatically launching when Windows boots, then rebooting to an operating system in which it isn't running. I want to know how you close the antivirus application.

I want to know where the off switch is on this thing.

I want to know how one uninstalls this application without resorting to techniques more usually employed to exorcise malware.

Here's McAfee's official response:

McAfee's official response


Discussion (14)

2010-01-22 23:17:53 by Frymaster:

on the one hand, many anti-virus products only let you turn off the scanner, not close them down entirely, which is a design decision I can agree with on the other hand, most of those don't then moan about it when you try to uninstall them

2010-01-22 23:19:47 by Boter:

I'm rather proud of myself, I guessed it at the first picture. The wise-ass answer is, of course, "You're using McAfee, that's what's wrong with that picture."

2010-01-22 23:47:39 by AdamVandenberg:

I guessed it right away, but to be fair, I did just nuke a free trial of McA off of a brand new Dell yesterday. So, yeah, ugh.

2010-01-22 23:50:55 by Kwd:

I had to deal with McAfee for years, before I switched to Ubuntu. I'm pretty sure that it came installed on the computer. It's a pain in the butt. Some other people that I know that have McAfee joke that they'd rather have a virus than put up with it. I think I'll just use Avast next time I install Windows.

2010-01-23 02:56:27 by dankuck:

Anti-virus suites are so arrogant.

2010-01-23 10:19:40 by jleedev:

And here I was thinking you were about to make a pointless comment on the spelling of "SecurityCentre".

2010-01-23 11:05:43 by Dmytry:

I've even blogged about this. Essentially, the "reputable" antivirus software has all the features of the "rogue" antivirus software (which they denounce as evil on every occasion) - namely, it can't be easily removed (meaning that a typical user will NOT be able to remove it), when license expires it shows ads, displays fake threats (e.g. ad network cookies as threats, etc), and it keeps charging the credit card for 2 more months if you cancel the subscription.

2010-01-23 14:26:49 by rgoro:

Yeah, the same thing goes for AVG. I'm ok with the idea of making it _hard_ to do, i.e. making it hard to shoot yourself in the foot, but there is a long road from "hard" to "you must cheat". So now we know that MacAfee used to make games for the NES :P. OT PS: Sam, could you teach your comments software that á is a valid letter? I can't write my name nor my surname without it. Thank you!

2010-01-23 15:35:33 by Aristocrat:

Norton Antivirus suffers the same problem. I suspect that antivirus software are simply advanced evolutionary adaptations of computer viruses that not only infect systems, but also destroys any competing digital lifeforms to ensure dominance over a particular machine.

2010-01-24 08:52:34 by Dmytry:

Well, what's worth noting is that it is only hard to remove for a human (lack of built in remove functionality). The flipside of this is that it easy to remove for a virus (the removal is not handled by antivirus in some secure way, but rather, by usual services). Antivirus software is at best equivalent to a typical commercial 'patented remedy' from the time before FDA. The only thing that it has to be effective at is generation of revenue.

2010-01-25 14:36:10 by Nara:

@ Aristocrat: So anti-virus software is a vaccination for your computer?

2010-01-25 23:37:11 by EthZee:

The Avast! anti-virus on-access protection thingy has the inverse problem; if it closes, you can't start it up again without restarting the computer. If it closes (which it does if, say, it suddenly closes with nary a warning but a error message), then you can only open the system scanner. IT'S A CONSPIRACY I TELLS YE

2010-02-06 06:35:51 by Chrome:

The first thing I noticed about the first picture is that the words "McAfee SecurityCenter" are in the program window, while a lonely "M" icon occupies the title bar where "McAf..." should have been too. I have to admit I didn't figure out what the hints meant, guess I've just gotten used antivirus software behaving like the metaphorical bad houseguest.

2010-03-21 14:43:45 by Sarra:

"The first thing I noticed about the first picture is that the words "McAfee SecurityCenter" are in the program window, while a lonely "M" icon occupies the title bar where "McAf..." should have been too." That was me too - I'd been thinking the problem was that 'SecurityCenter' didn't specify, in the context menu, that it was McAfee's, and could thus be mistaken for something rogue. AVG is also impossible to close, as someone above has pointed out.

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