Feeds

Schneier spanks AV industry over Flame failures

The problem is in the process

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Security guru Bruce Schneier has questioned some of the excuses coming from the antivirus industry as to why it is taking them so long to pick up advanced malware like Flame and Stuxnet.

Schneier's scolding was inspired by a mea culpa published in Wired by F-Secure's top security man, Mikko Hypponen. He admitted that when Flame was discovered F-Secure back-checked and found samples of the malware from two years ago and in the cases of both Stuxnet and DuQu the code had been in circulation for a year before being picked up.

"The truth is, consumer-grade antivirus products can’t protect against targeted malware created by well-resourced nation-states with bulging budgets," he wrote. "They can protect you against run-of-the-mill malware: banking trojans, keystroke loggers and e-mail worms. But targeted attacks like these go to great lengths to avoid antivirus products on purpose."

The kind of zero-day holes used by such malware are unknown by definition, he said, and the fact that such malware was being pretested against the most current commercial antivirus software meant that it wasn't a "fair war."

"I don't buy this," said Schneier. "It isn't just the military that tests their malware against commercial defense products; criminals do it, too. Virus and worm writers do it. Spam writers do it. This is the never-ending arms race between attacker and defender, and it's been going on for decades."

While it's likely that the Flame developers had a bigger budget than your common-or-garden cybercriminal, that wasn't the issue he argued. There's nothing particularly stealthy about the code itself. What makes Flame, Stuxnet et al more stealthy is that they are distributed in a slow, small-scale manner and are therefore considered either false-positives or not worth investigating.

"It seems clear that conventional non-military malware writers that want to evade detection should adopt the propagation techniques of Flame, Stuxnet, and DuQu," he concluded. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.