Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Virus Outbreak Response Time

In a previous posts I discussed various trends related to malware families, and mentioned CipherTrust's Real Time PC Zombie Statistics. You might also be interested in IronPort's Virus Outbreak Response Times for the last 24 hours which currently tracks, IronPort themselves, Sophos, Trend Micro, Symantec, and McAfee. Although vendor's bias often exist, let's just say that self-serving statements can easily be verified by doing a little research on your own -- it doesn't cost a fortune to run a geographically diverse honeyfarm. However, what bothers me is the vendors' constant claims on exchanging malware samples for the sake of keeping the E in front of E-Commerce, whereas response time "achievements" often get converted into marketing benchmarks to be achieved. Protecting against known malware is far more complex than it seems, and it is often arguable whether zero day malware, or known malware has the highest impact when infecting both, corporate, and home PCs. Basically you have powerful end users getting themselves infected with months old malware and later on collectively becoming capable of causing damage on a network that's already aiming at achieving the proactive protection level. Ironic isn't it? If detailed statistics truly matter, VirusTotal has the potential to dominate the analysts community without bias.

Response times used to matter once, now it's all up to proactive protection approaches, and, of course, revenue generation from both sides. Moreover, sometimes even a signature based approach doesn't work, especially when it comes to packet based or web application based malware. Avoid the signatures hype and start rethinking the concept of malware on demand, open source malware, and the growing trend of malicious software to disable an anti virus scanner, or its ability to actually obtain the latest signatures available.

At the bottom line, achieving ROSI when it comes to false malware positives is yet another growing concern for the majority of enterprises wisely spending their security dollars.