Feeds

Malware on tap scheme draws flak

Frame4 flamed

The essential guide to IT transformation

A Dutch-firm's plans to sell malware samples to corporates have drawn a barbed response from members of the anti-virus industry and a penetration testing firm.

Dutch security Frame4 Security Systems plans to go live with a malware distribution project, dubbed MD:Pro, from 1 February. The service is promoted as offering "developers of security systems and anti-malware products a vast collection of downloadable malware from a secure and reliable source".

The subscription-based service will cost from €1,000 a month and will be restricted to security developers involved in analysis, testing, research and development, according to Anthony Aykut of Frame4 Security Systems. Aykut said Frame4 had more than 6,500 files in its system and predicts it might have 120,000 downloadable malware samples by the end of 2006. It claimed many of the samples would be "undetectable" by anti-virus products

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Sophos, questioned the benefits of the service. He said that researchers in the anti-virus industry have worked closely together for years, sharing malware samples between trusted experts and analysts without ever charging money.

"This has benefited internet users around the world as it means if one anti-virus company discovers a new threat it won't stand in the way of its competitors also having the opportunity to analyse the malware and produce protection from its customers."

"The Malware Distribution Project is not that different from many of the VX [virus writer] websites that exist on the net. It presents itself as being available for research purposes, but mentions nothing about restricting access to trusted, responsible members of the security community. Indeed, its barrier for entry appears to be hard cash rather than trust," he added.

Aykut countered that membership of MD:Pro will be restricted to corporate customers only. "It will be a closed list and applications will be checked. Members would not be allowed to distribute virus samples," Aykut told El Reg.

"The samples come from a private collection and from a malware researcher, who wishes to remain anonymous. Virus writers are not involved in the business."

He said MD:Pro would be attractive to developers of intrusion detection systems, along with large corporations and ISPs. "Why should the criminals be the only ones who have access to malware repositories?"

"The anti-virus industry is too exclusive and keeping people outside in the dark. Corporate clients could use samples to test the security of their anti-virus defences," he added.

Roy Hills, technical director of security testing firm NTA Monitor, is sceptical over these arguments. "I can't imagine this would be useful to corporates. If you need virus samples to do a penetration test, and that's something we hardly ever do, it's easy to get a zoo virus. It's doesn't need to be bang up to date and you wouldn't want to test against every virus out there," he said. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?