Feeds

Anti-virus protection gets worse

What is this thing you call heuristics?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Antivirus software is getting worse at protecting users from new threats, according to two reports which found malware authors are getting better at disguising their creations.

German computer magazine c't studied 17 antivirus programs and exposed them to completely new samples of malware. What they found wasn't encouraging. Detection rates sank to 20-30 per cent, from 40-50 per cent in a similar test last year.

The c't researchers also created variants of known viruses and found that virtually all of the scanners missed at least some of them.

Plenty of questions remain about the report, which is scheduled to be published in January. (Heise has a brief synopsis of the report here.) It would be helpful to know the methodology and what products were tested.

But taken at face value, the research raise questions about the effectiveness of heuristic engines. Heuristic scans examine the code inside a file for suspicious behavior and flag those it thinks have a high likelihood of being malicious. Because they don't need virus definitions, they can provide better protection immediately following the release of a new virus.

A second report, released Thursday by researchers from Kaspersky Labs, said online scanners may be contributing to the deterioration of heuristics. Sites such as VirusTotal, for instance, allow a user to scan a suspicious file. The site then compares the code against 32 antivirus products to check for malicious code.

"But as so often happens, something that can be used for good - helping users check the integrity of their files - can also be used by virus writers," the researchers note. "They quickly caught on to the fact that services like the ones mentioned above could be used to test how well their creations can evade popular antivirus solutions."

They document websites such as AvCheck.ru, which charge as much as a dollar per scan and promise not to submit the files to antivirus companies. That way, malware developers can be assured their works in progress won't be sent to antivirus companies.

Bright spots in the c't report: Eset's NOD32 detected 68 per cent of the completely unfamiliar attacks. And F-Secure was "able to perform convincingly in the behavioural blocking test", which measured how well a product protected a machine from getting infected. Kaspersky and BitDefender also got high marks. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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
JLaw, Kate Upton exposed in celeb nude pics hack
100 women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
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

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.