Saturday, July 4, 2009

Antivirus Is Not Enough

If you run Windows, Antivirus software is an essential part of day to day life. Recently, David Hall told BLORGE's John Popsil something that seemed directed at Microsoft's new and free antivirus product:

“If you are only relying on free antivirus to offer you protection in this modern age, you are not getting the protection you need to be able to stay clean and have a reasonable chance of avoiding identity theft,” he said. - Symantec: it’s dangerous to rely on free antivirus -

There are some very good free antivirus software packages on the market - free antivirus package AVG recently shared honors with Norton on ConsumerSearch.  For Windows users, the threats are bigger than just virus, and Hall made a very imporant point, "It means that you’ve been infected: threat has actually gotten to your machine. So, it [antivirus] is the last layer of defense that you ever want to have activated."

Hall's point is noteworthy because it recognizes that Windows threats have evolved to the point that infection and exploit may occur before any antivirus package can react.  Malware like Personal Antivirus (link to removal instructions and an entertaining description of how it works) are typically installed when you visit a compromised website that literally injects the software on to your PC through a web browser vulnerability.  Hall's company, Symantec sells the very popular Norton Antivirus and Norton Security suite, which includes components to protect users from spyware, email phishing and other non-virus attacks.

The problem is that security experts and the people that write security software may be unaware of a threat for months before anything is done about it.  This leaves users with a false sense of security.

This raisies a few important questions:
  • Have security threats evolved to the point that antivirus software provides inadequate protection?
  • Are kitchen sink security suites necessary?
  • Is Microsoft's new Defender product the answer?

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