Feeds

Window of exposure lets viruses run rampant

BlackSpider spins web of intrigue with virus stats

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Website security in corporate America

More than 295,000 virus-infected emails were sent to companies in the UK in May before anti-virus vendors could issue signature updates, according to email filtering firm BlackSpider Technologies. It’s long been known that there is a ‘window of exposure’ - the interval between when a virus begins spreading and signature updates are issued by anti-virus vendors. BlackSpider has put a figure on this phenomenon in order to back up its argument that there’s a high risk of infection during this ‘window of exposure’ for firms that rely on conventional anti-virus scanners alone.

Vendors that make most of their money from desktop or server-based anti-virus scanners argue that most of these viruses could be thwarted by a policy of blocking executable attachments in email. They also argue - with some justification - that many instances of virus infestation occur because people don’t keep anti-virus protection up to date and that older viruses pose the greater problem. Furthermore looking at virus-infected emails – rather than figures on virus-infected PCs that are harder to obtain – slews stats towards newer, chattier viruses. Desktop anti-virus protection also defends against viruses that propagate using browser exploits, unlike email filtering services.

"Blocking at the perimeter alone is dangerous because viruses can spread through variety of methods, such as IM and P2P, as well as email. Users need protection at the heart of their organisation," said Carole Theriault, a security consultant at Sophos.

Email filtering firms, such as BlackSpider and MessageLabs, counter-argue that their services are needed in addition to conventional anti-virus defences. The ability to recognise and quarantines viruses before patches are issued by anti-virus vendors helps corporate security, they argue. This approach also allows more aggressive filtering.

According to BlackSpider, the recent fast-spreading Sober-P virus proved particularly problematic for anti-virus vendors who took more than two days to issue signature updates that picked up all copies of the variant. The two most damaging virus outbreaks of last month occurred on May 31. MyTob-BC proved the most prolific, with approximately 69,500 emails being sent to UK businesses prior to the first signature updates being available from anti-virus vendors, while the Bagle-BO virus ran it a close second. Blackspider blocked 67,000 copies UK business email addresses before anti-virus vendors issued a signature update.

Spohos’s Theriault said that heuristic (automatic detection) features in its products picked up Bagle-BO without the need to issue additional anti-virus signatures. ®

Related stories

Viruses leap through window of opportunity
The trouble with anti-virus
MS punts all-in-one security and backup service

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.