FastTasks 2 & Anti Virus Software warnings

avast






Some users have informed me that Avast [*1]  is blocking installation of FastTasks 2 and flagging it with a virus alert or ‘infection threat’.

This is what security experts call “a false positive”, or to put it another way, it’s a case of AV Software getting it badly wrong. So long as you have downloaded FastTasks 2 from my official download link, I can personally guarantee that it is safe to use. I’m a registered Apple Developer, and FastTasks 2 is codesigned (which means it is accepted by OS X’s GateKeeper protection).

As I don’t run any AV software myself, I can’t say exactly why Avast flags FastTasks 2 as a threat [*2], but let me be clear about what FastTasks does and does not do:

▶︎ FastTasks does not install anything on your computer (other than itself in your Applications folder and the required supporting files in your User Library), and it can easily and safely be removed at any time simply by moving it to the Trash. Alternatively, a full installer can be downloaded from here.

▶︎ FastTasks 2 does not install any daemons or launch agents (unlike most AV Software), nor does it ask you for blanket permission to make changes to your system (again, unlike most AV Software).

▶︎ FastTasks 2 does not “call home” except to do a software update check on launch or whenever you manually choose the ‘Check for update’ function in the menu. This simply fetches the current version number from an html page. FastTasks 2 does not send any information to the internet about you, your computer, or even itself, nor does it download any files from any site or server.

▶︎ FastTasks 2 has a function whereby you can check your IP Address (for more info, see the documentation page). In order to achieve this, when you choose the IP Address function in the menu, FastTasks 2 pings a website and retrieves your IP address from it. It then displays this in the HUD panel that appears on your Desktop. FastTasks 2 does not send any information to that site (or any other) about you, your computer, or even itself, nor does it download any files from any site or server.

▶︎ Some FastTasks functions require you to enter an Admin password. The password request is NOT from FastTasks, but is in fact from OS X. Whenever you give OS X your password to authorise some function provided by FastTasks (for example, getting the fan speed or flushing the DNS Cache), you are granting permission only for that particular function at that particular time (in fact, the way OS X works, permission for the same function will remain open for that function for about 5 minutes after you have given it. Beyond that, OS X will ask you for your password again every time you try to execute that function).

▶︎ FastTasks itself NEVER asks for your password, nor does it ever store your password (in fact, it is not capable of doing either).

▶︎ Unlike many AV Software and “maintenance” programs, FastTasks does not require that you set up a user account, give away your personal information in a registration process or ask for your email address[*3]. FastTasks 2 does not ask for, use or need your personal information.

▶︎ FastTasks 2 is a system utility that helps you to find out things about your mac or execute certain tasks on your mac. To fulfil its purpose, it needs to communicate with other processes on your system. For that reason, FastTasks is not sandboxed (neither, by the way, is most AV Software, for exactly the same reason). It is also the same reason why neither FastTasks 2 nor many other system utilities are available in the Apple App Store, which requires all App Store apps to be sandboxed.

That leaves the question, what should you do about your AV Software blocking installation of FastTasks? Again, I do not use such software myself and can’t offer advice on how to use it, but your software should have a function whereby you can exclude certain apps from its scan. If you are unable to do that, you might wish to contact the vendor about why not or make a choice as to whether the AV software you are using is really serving your best interests. On that note, a good, independent write up about the various pros and cons of various AV software programs can be found here:

http://www.thesafemac.com/mmg-antivirus/

The same researcher has some very interesting things to say about Avast in particular, here:

http://www.thesafemac.com/avast-installs-adware/

I will leave the reader to decide whom they wish to trust, the AV Software vendors, or independent developers and researchers like myself and others. I will, however reiterate for the record that none of my apps will ever install adware, malware, viruses, trackers, spyware or be part of any other anti-social practices.

Back to the Help Centre…

@sqwarq

Follow @sqwarq on Twitter

 

 

[*1] Edit 1st Feb 2016: Originally, this post said “Avast and possibly other AV Software”; however, since this post was first published a year ago, I’ve never heard of any AV app other than Avast having a problem with FT2 and have edited this line accordingly.

[*2] Edit 1st Feb 2016: I now suspect that Avast is probably finding the malware and other definitions that FT2 uses to do its own malware/adware scans (located in the /Resources folder). In other words, I suspect Avast is not smart enough to distinguish between other apps searching for malware and malware itself.

[*3] Edit 1st Feb 2016: Home users who choose to purchase an optional license key or Commercial/Organisational users purchasing a Commercial license key will be asked for personal contact details by our e-commerce provider, FastSpring. More info can be found on FastSpring.com.

 

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