Feeds

Stop the antivirus vendor hype

Only 800 have ever infected anybody's computer

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

A senior figure in the antivirus industry has spoken out against the misinformation and myths which surround computer viruses - many of which he said arise due to hype from vendors themselves.

David Perry, global director of education for Trend Micro, said the public harbour a number of common misconceptions about computer viruses, due in large part to overstated warnings about viruses from vendors and sensationalist reporting in the media.

Perry, who has spent 10 years in technical support, said: "The problem on help desks is only occasionally fixing the damage caused by computer viruses, it's mostly fixing problems caused by lack of understanding."

His argument is that rumour and innuendo, hoaxes and pop culture create a rich breeding ground for myths about viruses - such as the idea viruses are created by antivirus companies or are able to destroy hardware - that takes focus away from the real issues.

Perry's central point, made in a speech at the 10th Annual European Institute for Anti Virus Research (EICAR) conference in Munich this week, is that misinformed users can actually increase the likelihood of virus infestation, and more needs to be done close the gap between perceived and actual damage caused by viruses.

An example of this knowledge deficit, according to Perry, is that of the 30,000 to 50,000 computer viruses routinely quoted in figures from the antivirus industry, only 800 have ever infected anybody's computer and "only 200 are in circulation".

"The rest are 'zoo' viruses - which are emailed to antivirus companies by virus authors themselves and never make it into the wild," said Perry.

Perry, who himself admits to having over-hyped viruses in the past, said he re-examined his approach after warnings he made about the NewLove virus, a post Love Bug flop, failed to materialise. He argues virus firms need to be more cautious in issuing alerts - despite the temptation to cry wolf.

"The antivirus industry is fiercely competitive. There's millions of dollars to be made and lost and firms gets enormous communication value and mind share when they're quoted in reports of virus outbreaks in the press," said Perry. "The firms who tend to cry wolf are those who need coverage at a particular time, and after an alert is issued things tend to take on a life of their own." ®

Related stories

Anna Kournikova bug drops harmlessly onto the Net
Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug
Virus toolkits are s'kiddie menace
Which country has the most virus infected PCs?
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/8/17095.html">PC World virus scans offer no real protection
Gnutella users warned of Internet worm

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.