Feeds

MS virus clean-up tool sparks controversy

False sense of security?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Microsoft debuts a malicious software removal tool today. It represents the first tangible fruits of Microsoft's June 2003 acquisition of Romanian anti-virus firm GeCAD Software.

The Microsoft Windows malicious software removal tool consolidates utilities released by Microsoft to remove viruses such as Blaster from infected systems. This clean up tool will be made available through Windows Update or as a separate download and updated on the second Tuesday of each month under Microsoft's monthly software security update process. Microsoft hopes the tool will be widely used and is releasing it free of charge.

With monthly updates and limited functionality, Microsoft's tool is best used to clean up infection from PCs; it isn't much help in preventing virus infection in the first place. Microsoft advises users to use third party anti-virus scanners and advocates Windows XP SP2 as a defence against viral infection. The company is also taking a more active role in the fight against spyware with the release last week of the first beta version of Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware.

Beats, as it sweeps, as it cleans

Despite the limited scope of the clean-up tool, some anti-virus firms annoyed that Microsoft is treading on their turf. John Cheney, CEO of email filtering firm BlackSpider Technologies, said consumers might wrongly come to believe Microsoft's tool protected them from virus infection.

"The signature-based AV solutions, such as the GeCAD solution purchased by Microsoft performs poorly against fast-moving virus outbreaks. It will be interesting to watch how well Microsoft performs in the update / patch management process, where speed is essential to minimise damage from a virus outbreak, compared with the big AV vendors who have years of experience in producing and testing virus signatures quickly," he said.

"Microsoft should spend more time, energy and money addressing its own security weaknesses inherent in its products, which are exploited by virus writers and hackers, and less time trying to erode the businesses of existing security vendors."


BlackSpider neglects to mention that conventional anti-virus scanning software is far from foolproof either, even when signatures are kept up to date (which often doesn't happen). That's part of the reason Microsoft released a Blaster clean-up tool, the widespread use of which eventually led to today's more comprehensive clean-up tool. This may be no great shakes but could help reduce the number of Windows PCs infected with mass mailing worms. Months-old worms like NetSky-P continue to top virus charts, so something must be done. ®

Related stories

Microsoft buys anti-spyware firm Giant
Microsoft Anti-Spyware?
Mystery of MS's missing AV software
MS bigs up Windows XP SP2
Microsoft's high-risk security strategy
Vendors wary of MS Windows Firewall
Microsoft enters AV market
Blaster clean-up tool was stellar success - MS

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications 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.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.