Feeds

Viruses leap through window of opportunity

AV scanners left standing

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Mass mailing viruses could be consigned to the dustbin of history if only anti-virus vendors were quicker off the mark.

Findings presented by security experts at the recent Virus Bulletin Conference in Chicago show that reducing the ‘window of vulnerability’ between the release of a virus and the availability of fixes could make email virus outbreaks a rarity. The window of vulnerability is the delay between the appearance of a new email-borne virus or worm, and the release of signatures by traditional anti-virus software vendors.

Research presented by Gabor Szappanos from Virus Buster shows that when a new mass-mailing virus emerges, it usually takes a few hours to gather enough momentum to result in an outbreak. If anti-virus vendors were able to reduce the window of vulnerability to three hours or less, mass-mailing viruses would have little if any impact. A separate study (PDF) by Andreas Marx of AV-test.org showed that the average signature delay time has only been reduced from 12 to 10 hours during the past year. Taken together the studies demonstrating a gulf of between seven to nine hours between the first appearance of mass mailers and the availability of fixes.

The findings are further evidence that signature-based anti-virus technologies alone no longer provide adequate protection against viral outbreaks. Consumers and businesses alike can get infected with fast-spreading viruses even when they regularly update signature-based anti-virus detection tools. According to a report published by IDC in August 2004, proactive virus detection techniques are expected to be increasingly adopted by organisations to combat the more complex, fast-spreading threats of the future. A variety of approaches to plugging the gaps left open by conventional AV scanners are emerging.

Filter and block

Email filtering firms, such as MessageLabs and Avecho, argue viruses should be filtered out from email traffic on the net before they get anywhere near corporate boundaries. Host-based intrusion prevention firms argue the opposite. Firms like Cisco, Prevx and others argue that malicious code should be thwarted at the desktop using various types of behaviour-blocking technologies. Vendors such as Cisco, McAfee have sought to apply behaviour blocking techniques as a supplement to conventional AV scanner software. Thus far this has been a corporate play. Prevx Home became the first host-based intrusion prevention product to be offered as a free download last month, following a model adopted by GRISoft and Spybot in the AV and anti-spyware markets, respectively.

A third approach comes from security appliance vendors. Finjan this week announced plans to make a scaled down version of its behaviour blocking appliance available to small businesses from the start of next month. The 1Box Series uses "application-level behaviour blocking" to identify malicious behaviour of files coming into the network by email or web, and block them before they can do any harm. The PC-based appliance includes anti-virus, URL filtering and anti-spam engines in a single box. Finjan said the device is able to recognise malign patterns of behaviour and block previously unseen malware without relying on signature files. 1Box series prices start at $2,755 for the hardware, with software licences of $27 per user for 100 users. ®

Related stories

Virus writers outpace traditional AV
The trouble with anti-virus
Prevx releases free intrusion prevention software
Cisco, IBM and MS in network security love-in

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Canadian taxman says hundreds pierced by Heartbleed SSL skewer
900 social insurance numbers nicked, says revenue watchman
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Burnt out on patches this month? Oracle's got 104 MORE fixes for you
Mass patch for issues across its software catalog
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
Oracle working on at least 13 Heartbleed fixes
Big Red's cloud is safe and Oracle Linux 6 has been patched, but Java has some issues
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.