Feeds

Anti-virus defences even shakier than feared

Security firms attack 'flawed' tests

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Updated Anti-virus technologies may be even more ineffective than feared, if a controversial new study is to be believed.

A study by web intelligence firm Cyveillance found that, on average, vendors detect less than 19 per cent of malware attacks on the first day malware appears in the wild. Even after 30 days, detection rates improved to just 61.7 per cent, on average.

Anti-virus vendors have criticised the methodology of the study as hopelessly flawed not least because it only looked at signature-based detection of malware.

Cyveillance argues its research shows that users ought to practice safe computing - such as avoiding unknown or disreputable websites and increasing security settings on their web browser - as a way of minimising security risks rather than relying on up to data anti-virus to protect them.

The security research outfit criticises "signature-based" anti-virus technologies; which is fair enough but rather ignores the point that vendors have long adopted generic detection of malware strains, and are introducing crowd-based architectures as a means of providing protection from the ever-increasing volume of malware threats.

Luis Corrons, technical director of Panda Security, which was not tested as part of the research, said that Cyveillance had only tested one component of anti-malware protection. The tests ignored anything except anti-virus signatures - despite the fact this is only one layer of the protection offered by modern security / anti-malware suites.

"As far as I’ve seen, they have only tested static signature detection capabilities, Corrons told El Reg. "This is the very first technology ever implemented in an antivirus."

"It is good to detect known malware, but it is clearly not enough, and every serious antivirus vendor knows that, and even some of us recognize it in public, Panda has been saying this for years. That’s why most of the major vendors have been developing proactive technologies: behavior analysis/blocking, cloud-based detections, etc.," Corrons concluded.

David Harley, senior research fellow at anti-virus firm Eset, which was tested, said Cyveillance conclusions that anti-virus solutions alone do not adequately protect individuals and enterprises is reasonable but its test methodology is flawed. For one thing Cyveillance looked at just 1,708 samples, a minute fraction of the tens of thousands of malicious binaries that pass through anti-virus labs every day.

"You can't convincingly claim statistical precision with a data set of 1,708 samples, Harley explained. "You certainly can't rank comparative performance meaningfully on that basis unless you can demonstrate accurate weighting for prevalence, and there's no indication of that in the report. Harley said Cyveillance may have looked at on-access scanner performance and failed to carry out "true dynamic or whole product testing", repeating a problem of other tests where "testers draw big conclusions from tests that only look at a single detection behaviour".   "Anti-virus products miss a lot of malware.However, the exact number or proportion of threats missed is a bit harder to calculate (or even guess at) than Cyveillance seems to think," Harley concluded. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.