Antivirus Software: Losing the Race to Malware

September 26th, 2012


Everyone knows how key it is to keep your antivirus software up-to-date. This is a main line in protecting our systems from viruses. Recently MIT’s Technology Review published an article that seems to disagree with this “given” we have all lived by.

Antivirus Software: Unreliable?

The story states that antivirus software which we have all relied on to defend our information is no longer as effective as it used to be. More and more advanced viruses are being developed daily that cannot be discovered by current antivirus software. This can be very concerning as many of us use the Internet every single day.

Burned by Flame

The Technology Review story concentrates on Flame, just about the most complicated instances of malware ever discovered. According to the story, Flame has been copying documents and making recordings of audio, keystrokes, network traffic and Skype calls and taking screenshots of all this activity from the computers it has contaminated. What’s the worst part? Flame has been doing this for at least two years, based on the Technology Review story. And throughout this time, not a single bit of security software discovered this particularly clever bit of malware.

An Industry Under Siege

As the Technology Review story says, though, Flame is far from the only malware to slide past antivirus software. Several advanced malware attacks in recent years have avoided discovery by antivirus software. The story quotes an official with an antivirus firm who described Flame as a major failure of the antivirus industry. What’s this mean for you? Only that your computer probably isn’t nearly as safe as you’ve thought. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t install any antivirus software on your computer. Like defending your health against flu, cancer and other kinds of bodily attacks - or your home against unwelcome intrusion - success relies on building layers of protection, for a cooperative victory. Until the safety side of the computer industry catches up, antivirus software remains another layer in smart defense against external attack. Just don’t be overly dumbfounded if you skimp on layering and your antivirus software fails you in the biggest of ways.