Symantec And Security Starlets Say Anti-Virus Is Dead

Is anti-virus finally dying? Sort of, say Symantec and its rivals

The world’s biggest IT security company Symantec has admitted anti-virus software is “dead” and it doesn’t think of the technology as a money maker anymore.

The comments came from the company’s senior vice president for information security, as a handful of other companies released reports trying to put the final nail in the coffin of anti-virus.

Whilst Dye told the Wall Street Journal it was still worth buying anti-virus to stop some threats, it still let through around 55 percent of attacks. And yet Symantec still counts on anti-virus for 40 percent of its revenues.

Update: Anti-virus vendors have rallied in support of the technology – and it has been pointed out that even the leading critics of AV actually use it in their products

Anti-virus ‘senescence’

Symantec corporate securityThe firm, which has seen two CEOs leave in the space of two years, is trying to change strategy to focus increasingly on data loss prevention, stopping information leaving or being compromised once hackers have made it through the company’s defences.

“If customers are shifting from protect to detect and respond, the growth is going to come from detect and respond,” Dye added.

Netherlands-based RedSocks Malware Research Labs yesterday released a report showing many types of common malware are making their way through anti-virus systems. By collecting data from honeypots, systems designed to attract common malware.

“The overall detection by anti-virus software in January was disappointing — only 70.62 percent. For February it is even worse — only 64.77 percent was detected. And in March the average detection was 73.56 percent. That might not sound too bad but it means that 29 percent, 35 percent and 26 percent was not detected,” the company’s report read.

“Protecting your data from Internet-based threats is not an easy task – and relying on protection from anti-virus companies, no matter how established their brand, is simply not enough. Comprehensive protection requires an entirely new approach.”

virus security lab research gloves © angellodeco Shutterstock
Click to read: Anti-virus is not dead. Even FireEye uses it

Last year, Imperva caused controversy by claiming its research showed anti-virus solutions only stopped five percent of all malware identified.

FireEye, meanwhile, has talked up the “senescence of anti-virus”, saying that modern hackers repeatedly tweak their malware to easily avoid detection.

“To be clear, single-iteration malware will continue to persist, and a minor need for AV will remain to provide a layer of reactive protection against these unsophisticated, benign threats. But with high-profile breaches occurring frequently, being driven by fast-moving, advanced threats, it is clear that next generation technologies and approaches are needed,” FireEye’s Zheng Bu and Rob Rachwald said in a blog post.

“Today’s AV model makes everyone a sacrificial lamb.”

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