Software should be smarter

Earlier today, I updated a new program I’m trying out – Seesmic for Windows, which I wrote about last week.

After the installer had updated the app, I launched it but got an alert from Norton Internet Security 2010.

Up popped a security dialog saying “A program is behaving suspiciously on your computer. We recommend that you choose to block and remove it.”

As you can see in the screenshot segment (click it to see full image), it’s the Seesmic app. As I know where the app came from and I did want it to run, I chose to allow it to continue.

I’m pleased the Norton product did this: that’s what it’s there for. It’s one of the tools I use to protect me from bad stuff that might otherwise cause damage or be the means for crooks to take over the computer or steal content.

Yet I wonder whether the conditions that trigger a security alert like this need thinking about some more.

When I reviewed the complete security dialog, I noticed this description that gave a little bit of information on what attracted Norton’s attention to the app and so flag it as a security risk:


These may be typical behaviours of viruses or malware. Yet aren’t they also indicative of legitimate apps that are new and don’t have many people using them yet? Especially preview versions like the current Seesmic for Windows?

I’ve marked the app as ‘friendly’ so hopefully it won’t trigger a security alert when I install the next update.

Yet what else could be done by either the application software publisher or the security software publisher, or both? Such an alert does grab your attention in a heart-stopping kind of way and might be pretty alarming to some people who would likely choose the recommended option and not run the app at all.

Maybe Seesmic should tell Symantec (the publisher of Norton Internet Security) about the new app. The information then finds its way into Symantec’s SONAR system via LiveUpdates for the Norton product and so, when you run an app that has very few users and is very new, as Norton sees it, it doesn’t set off all the alarm bells.

Software should be as smart as that surely? Or is this more about people rather than software? People are definitely smart!