Antivirus problems?

All of the files on this site are clean. I prepare each puzzle myself, on a clean machine, with software that I've been using for years.

My machine is protected and regularly scanned with WebRoot Secure Anywhere (one of PC Magazine's Editors Choices for 2012, and the only AV software that blocked 100% of the malware in their tests).

Since this site opened in 2007 we have had minimal problems with positive hits from antivirus programs. Then, in March 2012, Symantec/Norton revised the algorithm for what they call their "Trojan.ADH.2" technology, which caused a number of "false positive" reports to be generated seemingly overnight. A short time late, McAfee made a similar change in their "Artemis" technology, with similar effect. Both of these programs attempt to identify new malware threats before they have been clearly identified. Both of these vendors have had problems in the past with "false positives" (see the Wikipedia article here).

It's important to understand that neither the Symantic/Norton "Trojan.ADH.2" nor the McAfee "Generic!Artemis" is a specific virus or trojan. Instead, they are "technologies" or methods of trying to identify suspicious files that might contain a threat of some sort. Obviously, this means that some of the files that they identify as "suspicious" are completely harmless ("false positives"). Thus, false positive reports have been generated for many of the puzzle files based on random bit patterns, and the fact that new puzzle files look similar to these previous "suspicious" files makes them look suspicious, too.

I have submitted several of these "misidentified" files to Symantec for "further analysis", and in every case they have confirmed that the files were harmless. Unfortunately, with nearly 18000 files on the site, with 80 more added every week, I can't submit files fast enough to keep up with their "misidentifications".

Consequently, it appears that users of Symantec/Norton or McAfee antivirus products will continue to experience difficulty in downloading puzzle files from this site. If you have one of these programs, the solution comes down to a few options:

1. Restore the quarantined files (your antivirus program's Help file should tell you how to do that), and, if you wish, submit the files to Symantec or McAfee for analysis.

2. Replace the software with another brand that doesn't have this problem (see recommendations below).

3. Try another puzzle website (you'll find a number of them listed here).

For basic protection against viruses and spyware, you might consider AVG Free
(Click here to read the PC Magazine review)

For a full-featured protection suite, there's Webroot SecureAnywhere
(Click here to read the PC Magazine review)

Both of these programs received the PC Magazine 2012 Editors Choice awards.

Also, you should have no difficulty downloading files from this site using any of these antivirus products:
AhnLab-V3 AntiVir Antiy-AVL Avast BitDefender
ByteHero CAT-QuickHeal ClamAV Commtouch Comodo
Emsisoft eSafe eTrust-Vet F-Prot F-Secure
Fortinet GData Ikarus Jiangmin K7AntiVirus
Kaspersky Microsoft NOD32 Norman nProtect
Panda PCTools Prevx Rising Sophos
SUPERAntiSpyware TheHacker TrendMicro TrendMicro-HouseCall VBA32
VIPRE ViRobot VirusBuster