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Zimbabwe start-up releases first beta of virus protection program

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Viral Suppressor

Viral SuppressorA local start-up, TechTribe, has released the first beta version of a virus protection program it’s calling Viral Suppressor. The software is available for free download on www.vs.co.zw, and TechTribe is encouraging visitors to download and try the software.

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TechTribe was founded by Tawanda Katsaruware and Simon Mambariza. Katsaruware, a former Chinhoyi University of Technology student who is the technical lead and developer of the software, says he developed the program as part of his final year project for his first degree in 2009. The duo is working on a professional version of the software, which they say will be ready for release later this year.

We met Katsaruware and Mambariza at their offices in Harare where they demoed the software and shared with us the inspiration behind it. According to them, the software can provide basic protection to Microsoft Windows based computers, all without any need to download virus definition updates the way regular anti-viruses do:

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All antivirus products require updates, which, without these, your antivirus is virtually useless. The updates have to be acquired over the internet. Here in Zimbabwe, the majority of computer users do not have internet connections. Others have it but it is either too slow or too expensive to download the updates that range in size from 40 to 100MB. ($8 to $20 per update on Econet rates).

So I decided to find a way to protect users of developing countries like Zimbabwe. I had to find a solution that requires no internet whatsoever so everyone could be protected from viruses whether they have an antivirus or not.

Asked if Viral Suppressor can be used in place of regular anti-virus programs, Katsaruware said that for the purposes of testing Viral Suppressor one can keep their regular anti-virus program adding proudly that “The VS basically starts where your antivirus stops. It covers the shortfalls of your antivirus program”.

We had a long discussion about this and it kind of didn’t come out clearly how much different VS is from a regular anti-virus or where it lacks versus where it’s better. We don’t blame them though; the program is in its first beta. We’d be shocked if it can outdo mature anti-virus programs like those by McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro and the like. We’d happy if you readers try the software and add your comments `below.

Katsaruware also explained that Viral Suppressor can reverse changes made to a computer after a virus has been removed noting that most regular anti-viruses only remove the infection and stop there.

On how the project will be resourced, Katsaruware said TechTribe is in discussions with Chinhoyi University of Technology for possible technical partnership on further development of the software.


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90 thoughts on “Zimbabwe start-up releases first beta of virus protection program

  1. Following the barrage of criticism, I decided to download the suppressor on an old pentium 3 computer in my garage just to see what the frenzy is all about. Initially returns still make my position unchanged on this one and will still need to see whats really the ingenuity here. When I visited the website for the software, found out that the website only carries a download link to the software and we are also told about the antiviral briefly. On the site there is not much information about the developers of the software nor the company behind it. I was surprised that the software is about 4MB large zipped. At first i thought maybe I had downloaded a web installer for the software and later saw that the 4 mb is the zipped full package and it doesn’t need any updates wow give me a break!!! when I installed it on my computer all the files stretched to 8MB, still far below the size of norton updates i get weekly.When I ran the software it then opened a small window on the right bottom corner alerting that there are some utachionasi in my java files. I am still find out whether this was a false or true alert as I maintain a thorough antiviral schedule. Worse the antiviral did not tell me the name of the virus nor did it offered me a solution to the problem.

    1. I made it a promise not to put my valued eyes on this piece of nonsense. I want to talk to the CEO of this start-up I have two … him not two seconds obviously but a few words in two lines. In simple words could you be healed by a medicine for a 1984 polio disease or rather lets use caugh serup to heal all viruses.

      What acomputer doctor these guys are. If my computer is sick of noobyCode they give me a 4MB dose of Woods(caugh Serup) if I have Cyphilis they Give me that one drug.

      Haaa Nonsense

  2. @ Ocybergateway its nt the sku that teaches a man but the vision in a man drives him.U see to be a mr know all who wants pple to copy yo failures and thats wrong.Rega vapfana vanedzakarodzwa vanyore code yavo.The fact that no one is taught virology in zim universities will nt stop Tawanda,hats off to him.iwewe wakakonewa kuita code so all u must do is retry zvakakuvhara

  3. If u’ve neva made a virus….pliz shut up on the critisms…. My name is CODEBREAKER….straight frm htown…i made the virus that adds an intro to all the mp3’s on ur hdd…my virus spread all around the region and sometyms u cld hear songs with my intro on POWER FM…no Antivirus cld pic that up until some idiot frm moza posted a sample to avast…5 months later avast had a signature for my virus…..soooo i went 2 my virus factory,changed 4 lines..and avast cld no longer detect it.i diployd my virus again and lol……i nolonger make viruses..i now enjoy the opposite.iam zimbabwean…and wat were u sayin abt zimbo brains?wats my name? Aaaah swt, u can call me “orion”…@david…calls me “hotshot”

  4. LOL. And the issue rages on…

    MacD, thanks for helping me define this thing. David, myself and many other people havent heard of the Sergiwa program. M not saying that it doesnt exist, i mean that its an issue of its non availability to the people it can help. I am basically trying to address a local problem with a local solution. And it is working.

    Ocybergateway, even if you do find the usefulness of the program, im not expecting you to then admit that you were wrong. You are taking wild swipes now. Anyone can tell that the site is not finished. The purpose of the site right now is to provide a download. And with the many times i and others like MacD and Kabweza have told you, IT IS NOT AN ANTIVIRUS. Please go through the comments again. MacD defined it perfectly.
    Izvi zvekuti its 4mb zvinei? It does its job. Im really failing to understand where exactly your issue is. Tell me, can you run Norton 360, for example on that P3? Or any other Antivirus for that matter? It becomes slow as heck. How any people in dear Zim have high end PCs here? Fact is vanhu avana cash! Antiviruses are becoming heavier because the developed countries have the hardware. Isu atina and its not going to change. Im not the type of person who sits and waits for things to happen. You should have the ability at your age to identify problems that cant be solved. Ma antivirus ahasi kushandira vanhu vakawanda muZim nekuti they have old computers and avana internet. And no one is going to donate Ma quad core to those people. The developed world is leaving us behind. So lets make our own solutions for ourselves.

    Your negativity, Ocyber has prevented you from reading the alert you got. It said there was a program running with suspicious attributes. It did not say it was a virus did it? And it gave you an option to allow or stop the program if you recognise it, didnt it?

  5. @codebreaker could you post some virus.exe for all of us to see. use a site like hotfile or rapidshare and post the link here.

    @Tawanda agree with you if you make your app like the one i said or even better will support you. Another thing can viral suppresor pick up “codebreaker” alledgedly untraceble virus?

  6. @ Tawanda, so you need to elaborate as to what your software does. You say its its not an anti-viral so what it is it. I think your software is a “File change alert system” as when I probed some alerts it gave about some folders, I went I went there I would find that its a file that has undergone changes after I added some new features. I saw it when I upgraded my dotnet framework. What I am seeing is that through your much emphasis on Zimbabweans being a poor lot, this software will appeal to people who cant afford to maintain a thorough anti-viral schedule due to costs under the belief that it might alert them to file changes that normally might be triggered by viruses for them to make further investigation. If that is the case the software wont assist the layman or the ordinary person on the streets………… I had to use it on my disused p3 as i feared it will mess my business workstations. Anywhere wish you the best lucky in your project and hope these debates here brought some awakening to you such that your software comes out stronger in future releases if they will be any. As a developer you should accept any kind of critique and understand computer security is a very serious issue. I would have loved to thoroughly test your software but have other pressing projects. However I would like to leave you with the following tips.
    1) Try to work with others when developing softwares, teamwork makes perfect. I can actually see from the graphics design icons, forms, agreements, help files, code, website, e.t.c everything you must be the one who did it all . What about others – were you the only one in your class, why didn’t others put their contributions. If others had made contributions I would have seen that in the acknowledgements. i wont be surprised if you and your friend run tech tribe from development, marketing, management, pr, to support. I am not prescribing that you ought to to include others but having been at Wits University I found out how powerful teamwork is. On my project I included students from the universities different departments like law, Business management, marketing, IT, literature, graphics design, journalism e.t.c. . And the project came out nice that I won a Reuters Digital Fellowship Scholarship. I have been to google and MIT labs and have learnt a lot on software and hardware engineering. dont complain about funding as your start at university is a good start as you can find willing people to assist for free at the least and the most for a plate of sadza.
    2) This is a call to everyone, lets trying working together. I would like this blog to come up with techies directory so that we know who is doing what, where and how we can help and maybe look for funding under one umbrella. Its no longer time to do things the simba makoni way (kuzvimirira). Right now most of us here we cant give our really names because we live in a world of our own. Kabweza I hope you will take this techies directory seriously, maybe you can organise workshops too. at the moment I am thrilled with state of proper organisation of techies in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa. No wonder why they have attracted Google to their countries. ……………………………….

  7. Here are some facts l think will cheer Tawanda and his TSA to do more and remain focused:

    When Google was brought out, Yahoo and Ask were the biggest boys on search engine. Google brought simplicity which made it won so many people’s hearts even when it was in beta for over 10years! Tawanda your TSA must remain simple, stay away from bling bling coding.

    When two Latino ladies who didnot know how to code or been to university approached Mark(d?) Zuckerberg to make them a program which allows them to stay in tough with there friends in Latin America by means of pictures, Mark(d?) saw the brilliance ran away with their idea and make it his, the case was settled out of court. On the other end, Hi5 and MySpace were there first, even Murdoch paid millions and millions of dollars for MySpace, but who is the boss now?

    Mark(d?) Shuttleworth started his Ubuntu about 8yrs ago, everybody wrote him off because he was challenging very formidable establishment namely MicroShaft and Red Hat, how is Ubuntu now: Citroen, Peugeot, German gvt, Swedish gvt and many more are fully Ubuntunised(if its a word)

    When that college dropout called Bill Gates started his DOS, everybody said he was challenging the impossible which was IBM. IBM had its own OS as wel as manufacturer of computers, how has Bill Gates done so far, even when he introduced his Windows GUI, most people were skeptical because Apple was years ahead on GUI

    Even when TCP/IP was started most industry geniuses did not believe it could match DECnet, but TCP/IP even did better and more. TCP/IP brought the internet which we are enjoying now.

    Tawanda remain focused and do not let these people distract you!

    1. Most of your comments are false man. DOS sis not outcompete IBM. Thats shows you don’t understand what took place. Gates was a beneficiary of the IBM PC. IBM did not want to develop its own OS, so they outsourced it to Microsoft, which in turn bought the OS from somewhere else in Silicon Valley.

  8. Hi Ocyber,To be honest, i am not aware of the Viral Suppressor giving any file change notifications. Infact i know it doesnt. Well at least you’ve admitted you have better things to do than test the product, perhaps you will get the time and read exactly what the alerts are saying.
    As for critique, you may have noticed that i have been responding mainly to your stereotyped critique, although i can accept all other criticism, zvekuita shoot down fellow Zimbabweans because you may worship foreign technology is not easily acceptable. Not all of us want to wait on other countries to solve our problems.

    Now the second half of your comment is more like it (though i see the “kushora” spirit is still there). You are now contributing. Thats good. I havent done everything on my own. The credits do say the interface concept was done by InCreation Design. I however did most of the myself, to be honest you know how some people (friends incl) are unable or unwilling to help.

    You also cannot go get any Tom, Dick and Harry to jump on your project (for obvious reasons). I am however in talks with a couple of organisations. And i have made the plans and provisions for additional members to the development team. I had to make sure this thing works first before i go making resources for further development.
    Suggestion number 2 is brilliant. I believe everyone needs it. It would go a long way.

    If i had the resources, i would hold live demos and explanations like i did at the Research and Technology Expo. Till then, when the site is finished you will get ‘clearer’ info.

  9. Dont get me wrong. I do not look down upon Zim inventions. Infact, I am a venture capitalist and I once bankrolled a young developer in Harare with money and latest computers but he failed to take the project to a higher level, infact with the amount of resources I gave him which included laptops people dumped at my collection depot in Canada he decided to setup an internet cafe instead and forgot about the software.
    However I would like to emphasise teamwork in your efforts, thats the only way you can go far. Under my fulltime job I am working with UNICEF to develop and deploy RapidSMS using python and django, which is an sms system for data collection .I can tell you that this system is being worked with over a thousand people and we dont know each other and the software is getting stronger by the passing of the day. In your case an additional four or five coders might be the way to go. if people in Zimbabwe cant help if you go on some leading world universities websites and search for their IT clubs you can find people there to more than willing to assist.

    @MacD You should understand that the dot com boom is over. Have you seen an new notable web or IT inventions over the past two or so years. Infact trying to come up with a service that outdo facebook is no simply task the same with “antiviral” The best we can do is to contextulize the already existing technologies so that they can resonate with our circumstances and aspirations inorder to avoid wasting coding power. This is why you see popular websites like facebook, oracle have developer pages and this is where we ought to go and look into ways we can intergrate some already existing technologies to bring about social change. This one reason I salute the etxt guys. The future is much more to do with intergration.

  10. @Tawanda I have been running your Viral suppressor for some days now,It looks like a step in the right direction but I wouldn’t want people to go around calling that software an Antivirus.It looks to me like an AIO(all in one) tool ,a registry tweaker,file restorer,and a limited rootkit revealer and blocker.I am worried with its ability to effectively deal with rootkits,especially the ones that reside in the operating system kernel.I like the fact that you can add suspicious programs to sort of a blacklist.My r question is how does this protect a user from internet based malicious viral activity?The solution has to be global not local , a huge percentage of modern computing activity happens online and it is here where OS vulnerabilities are exploited.Any computer security program has to deal with this fact and provide counter measures.There is more to it than meets the eye,as you know viruses are not only designed to disrupt your normal computing operations.What about dialers,keyloggers e.t.c that come packaged in viruses.
    You got me wrong when you said I am criticizing you because its a Zimbabwean project..I have been out of Zim for some years now and years of experience have taught me not to criticise people based on where they come from.I can tell you that the best brains I know in IT out here are from Zim,they are brilliant because they had ideas they developed patiently and pitched to the right people and took criticism and accepted some advice that led to perfection.Good luck with VS. the ocean is huge and guppies get swallowed by bigger fish..what other project are you working on?

  11. people you all seem like computer buffs….but there is nothing called COMPUTER VIROLOGY its COMPUTER SECURITY.

  12. Pretty useful for the 3 days i have had it on my machine, guys don’t take any negative feedback badly, just look to the positive side of the negative feedback and aim for the sky! You have our full support here at Motion Raw Solutions!

    I will also publish this story on Ngoda Business Blog, http://www.ngoda.wordpress.com to spread the word!

  13. Well guys I dont want to unleash any form of critique. As of now. I will be infesting two VM on a Linux distro of my choice.

    After that I would like the start-up owners to give me their details and their website so I can do some pen testing.

    I will then unleash some hell to both the Anti Virus then their site and lastyly I will be back with a feed back. Please do give me a week and a weekened. I am a certified ethical hacker and from what this guys is talking I highly doubt he understands how a malicious piece of software is meant to compromise the state and function of a machine.

    I have been involved in software exploitation and I have workd withj the guys at sitepoint.co.za . IT DOESNT TAKE KNOWLEDGE OF PACKAGING A PIECE OF SOFTWARE tp create and antivirus.

    Who of the guys and who from that under funded university is capable enough to understand Virii heuristics and create logic that can scan and identify a malicous piece of software.

    Im known to be hard of such start-up but due to concerns from guys like Nhava and many other I have Kritiqued I will reserve my words for now till I prove how useless this idea is.

    Just to politely say this is a dumb idea. Virus definations (vdi) files are updated to the fraction of the minute how then can a company that clearly does not have an Internet presence and forefront be able to inhibit the rath of a malicious script.

    Im coming to Zimbabwe in a few months to come. I will try and help you guys understand what it is you shouldnt be doing or starting. TechZim thans for bringing this guys to the scene.

    I think I personally feel it could have been good that he kept that “school” project in the closet. The real world of business security and Info Sec calls for Pen Testers and not Antivirus development. Thats a blant Idea guys. Go and Study Info Sec and become Pen Testers not this nonsense guys.

  14. All great people, great inventions, great monuments, great success stories, start from here. Concentrate your energizes more advise on how you can improve it further not on those who say it’s crap. Be glad also that you have such, because tommorrow (those who say it’s crap) they will make part of your inspirational success story. (when finally you’ll have proved the wrong) Check all the great guys you know google, microsoft, facebook, appple mac, infosystems, tata etc at some point they were told it’s crap, its impassible, their mental capacity is on the wrong side, ngavaende kumusha vandorima and so on. henry ford was told his mechanical junk would never beat the horse,would not last 2years and the horse will be used till forever, but look now how somebody’s dream changed the world (feel sorry for the horses though, all they do is horse racing in one course everyday can’t explore the world like cars do) Get people to test the product, work on improvements and build around that. If you use windows version 3.1 you will know what some of these guys are saying its just un-ne-se-sa-ri negativity. Windows is now very robust, functional and aesthetic but it had to start there! Well done guys, let this be a founding block for bigger things to come. Work on various other applications that can complement your software development business. I don’t see why young Zimbabweans entrepreneurs, with such great ideas should not make it. Build a team of serious business people around you who are prepared to support you, I am one of those, if you need some investment. kudzai@emultimediabox.com, http://www.emultimediabox.com

  15. first and for most, i prefer to sample the coffee before i spit it out, but guess what tryd to access the vs website and their web bandwidth is exceeded had set up a virtual machine just to give them a fighting chance, am now more skeptical, viruses have been there for ages and updates are synonymous with antivirus software as these virus coders become more ingenious at exploiting loop holes in operating systems, education aside common sense being first, situation 1 how do you protect a pc from a virus that may come next week, that exploits a loophole in internet explorer 9 auto-update feature, food for thought, situation 2, the virus is in the computer its corrupting your word files how does vs repair such damage food for thought,

  16. u’re sentiments are the antithesis of innovation
    entrepreneurship. its basically an inferiority complex afraid of the big
    guys mentality. if any of u evaluated the software and indicated the
    flaws , i would have said there is substance in ur assertations but alas
    u’re just consumed with an inferiority complex.

  17. as they say New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along! this has happened to all new ideas (those that have succeeded and those that have not)

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