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Anti-Virus Is Dead (But Still Makes Money) Says Symantec 254

Posted by timothy
from the look-for-antivirus-with-the-rms-serial-of-approval dept.
judgecorp (778838) writes "Symantec says anti-virus is dead but the company — the world's largest IT security firm — still makes 40 percent of its revenue there. AV now lets through around 55 percent of attacks, the company's senior vice president of information security told the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, other security firms including FireEye, RedSocks and Imperva are casting doubt on AV, suggesting a focus on data loss prevention might be better."
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Anti-Virus Is Dead (But Still Makes Money) Says Symantec

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @10:53AM (#46928735)

    "AV now lets through around 55 percent of attacks" What happened? What's the big game changer from the 95% detections of just a few years ago?

  • Most AV is malware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:14AM (#46929001)
    Of all the problems that my relatives have called upon me to fix on their machines AV might be the number one complaint. They buy a machine from some big box store (against my recommendation) and the AV becomes more and more threatening as to the dire situation their machine is in and how only a subscription to their product will solve the problem.

    Then to make it worse the AV infests the machine like a spreading cancer. The browsers work funny, the startup is longer, the thing periodically pigs out on the internet. But it might be the popups that are the worst. We have all see the public jumbotron/Kiosk with a big AV popup front and center.

    Personally I blame AV bloatware for being one of the downfalls of the PC industry. People were buying their shiny new machines hoping that all their problems would go away and poof their new machine is effectively just as crappy as their old machine with these incomprehensible popups and threats.

    My only happiness in this situation is that the AV products haven't managed to get much traction in the mobile device industry.

    The key thing to keep in mind is that when you buy a basic PC from a manufacturer that they don't make much if any profit from the machine. It is the kickbacks they get from the crap AV, crap game, and crap music services that come as trialware. So if the AV industry has a business model based upon fooling people, kickbacks, and annoying people; then they can't die too soon.

    The horrible thing is that some products like NOD32 were awesome and didn't play those MBA games.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:15AM (#46929015)

    I noticed my idiot bother-in-laws computer was sitting on a wide open wifi connection, no password, no encryption. Then I looked and the computer had no antivirus, UAC, the Firewall, everything was disabled. I pointed all this out to him and he said "I don't get viruses anymore." So I ran a standard on-line anti-virus product and he had hundreds of infections. I doubt he's done anything with it at all.

    The authors of viruses make a profit off your infection by either displaying ads to you, or using your computer to host data or attacks. If they make what they are doing too obvious, you're going to do something about it. So it's in their best interest to make sure you don't notice it. Why fix something that's not bothering you? My brother-in-law has no idea the risks he's taking and likely thinks I'm dumb for bothering him with it. I suspect the majority of the people feel the same way.

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:19AM (#46929069)

    Bingo. Back when automated worms were the biggest threat we faced, programmatic tools were very effective. Likewise when viruses needed to be passed manually from user to user via infected files, AV could do a lot to stop it. Meanwhile, trojans weren't too effective, since software was still being distributed via physical media, so people were distrustful of downloadable executables. Nowadays though? Users are enticed to install trojans on their computers, which is now a perfectly normal thing to do, since that's the simplest vector most of the time, unaware that what they are doing is harmful.

    As the saying goes, you can't fix stupid.

    Even so, I rather like OS X's current way of combatting trojans, which gives the user three options in the System Preferences: allow anything to run, only run stuff from registered developers, and only run stuff from the Mac App Store. Doing so leaves the control in the user's hands, but allows them to choose the level of protection against executables coming from illegitimate sources that they want. The middle option in particular is a nice one (and used to be the default, though the Mac App Store one may be the default now...not sure), since it's rare that I encounter a legitimate Mac developer who isn't registered, meaning that the warnings about software from unregistered sources are exceedingly rare. Warnings that are rare are exactly the sort of thing we want, since it makes them stand out more and means that users are less likely to become blind to them.

    Quick aside: I'm not suggesting anything about the relative worths of the various platforms, nor am I suggesting this feature is unique to OS X (e.g. I know Microsoft has dabbled with registered developer security features in the past). I'm merely citing a feature I think manages to nail a nice middle-ground between providing warnings without rendering users blind to them, while still leaving folks like us with the ability to install whatever the hell we want.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:35PM (#46930905)

    yes, but when you can cut costs and not have any issues, a lot of places will do it.

    I'd like to see reliable evidence of this. I've heard this crap ever since Anthony Bourdain included it in some rant in one of his books about people who liked meat cooked more than medium-rare. Perhaps he was known to serve crappy food to those people, but I'd be really interested to know how widespread the practice is.

    Because if you search around on some cooking forums, you'll see other actual chefs chime in and say they do NOT do this. Actual chefs will tell you that they tend to have thinner cuts available for people who like well-done, so as not to delay the entire order while cooking one steak longer. (If they don't have this, they'll generally offer to butterfly the cut.) But actually serving people crappier meat? Not so much that I've heard, outside of Tony's confessions of being a jerk.

    theres no point in spending 20$ on a prime steak if the person eating it cant tell the difference between a shoe and a steak.

    "Prime" ratings refer to marbling, not necessarily quality of taste. So, if you pay more for "prime," you're paying for more fat. That fat won't disappear completely if the steak is cooked well done: in fact, more of it will often soften, because temperatures about 130 F (temp for medium-rare) allow faster break-down of a lot of fat. Case in point: taste a low-quality fatty cut cooked fast on a hot grill (often lots of gristle) vs. similar meat from the same part of the cow cooked to a much higher temperature longer as a pot roast... all that fat will be melt-in-your-mouth tender. A well-done steak, done properly, can be somewhere in between.

    For the record, I generally order my steaks medium rare, and I agree that that maximizes certain aspects (particularly juiciness and tenderness).

    But for those who like well-done, they often get extra browning flavors from the Maillard reaction and caramelization, and the extra fat break-down can do good things for the fat (though making the muscle tougher). If the steak is heated slowly before grilling or finished in the oven at a very low temperature, it can also be quite juicy (contrary to popular belief). Cooking a steak well-done that tastes good is also an art, and probably even more finicky that cooking one medium-rare.

    Anyhow, sorry, but if you are actually able to tell a prime-grade steak at medium-rare, you should also be able to tell one at well-done. If you can't, you probably don't know as much about steaks as you think you do. Different people like different things, but that doesn't excuse insulting them or serving them crappier food.

  • Shields Down! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by epine (68316) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:10PM (#46932209)

    I suspect the majority of the people feel the same way.

    Not even close, unless you also think that the majority of people who suffer in silence all fret over the same life issue.

    Apathy has at least a dozen different root causes at the level of kingdom and phyla. Some people dislike how their computer turns into a vat of sticky molasses right after the anti-virus software gets installed. They didn't know you need twice as much bare metal to eke out a tolerable user experience once the protective condom—prosthetic cylinder—is superglued onto the pink skin under the hood. When you find a male user whose entire panoply of defences are on the floor (or around his ankles), one suspects the anti-virus software was interfering with a cherished late-night hobby.

    The entire anti-virus program was misconceived to begin with. It's not ultimately impossible to write secure code, but it will remain impossible until we've exhausted every other dodge.

    You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. — Winston Churchill

    Note that by "secure" I don't mean "flawless". A better proxy is that once a flaw is discovered, it takes far longer to work up a successful exploit than it does to fix the problem and test the patch, assuming both lines of development hear the same gun.

    I've been reading security threads for at least two decades. There's always someone who pipes up with the view that because the travelling salesman problem is NP-complete, you might as well plan your route by flipping coins. This is the strange and not-so-wonderful archaea kingdom of the apathy tree. Brain the size of a planet, and all these people can manage is to cop a snivel. These people have their edge enhancement (aka paranoia) dialed up so far, the entire universe looks like a chessboard in the movie Tron. I'm guessing that the evolution of intelligent life is also NP-complete, yet somehow it happened. Hard to notice this if your giant brain perceives itself as living on planet Tron.

    At the end of the day secure code has no hope of survival in a winner-take-all market with a short little span of attention (winner take all, until it's all siphoned away by a Chinese triad). It probably boils down to prisoner's dilemma—until there's a sea change, and secure code gets the girl.

    The answer lies in a systems theory analysis of human mating-instinct time horizons. This is a different difficulty class than NP-complete, founded on the technique of proof by partial induction: well, we're still here.

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @03:42PM (#46932629) Journal

    It constantly irritates me when I see people installing all sorts of junk simply because they can't be bothered to READ what's on the screen, right in front of them. Thanks to the proliferation of "free" software for Windows (as opposed to true freeware), the installation programs often ask you if you'd like to ALSO install one of several other questionable toolbars, add-ons or other utilities, with an "opt in" default for each prompt. Really, there's no secret here.... It tells you right on the screen what it wants to install, and you simply de-select a check-mark to skip it. But people blow right through those prompts, clicking as fast as they can find the button, and then wonder where the "Super Cool MegaSearch" toolbar came from that keeps popping up ad banners while they surf the web.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @04:35PM (#46933387)

    Between the ages of 13 and 16, I made about $50,000 selling a bogus antivirus program that I wrote (didn't really do anything, looked cool though).

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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