Don’t Forget Viruses, the Computer Kind

19 Mar 2020 7:22am, by

Antivirus software and firewalls are the most widely adopted security technologies and have been so for years. They reduce risk but are taken for granted. Recent news in the non-tech world reminds us that media attention on the topic du jour is deleterious if it detracts from continuing efforts to address long-standing concerns. In other words, while emerging threats like nation-state cyberattacks and novel technology approaches like zero trust are worth addressing, don’t forget the efficacy of long-standing approaches to information security.

Only 2% of cybersecurity professionals expect an antivirus project to be their main focus regarding data breach protection, according to Cynet’sState of Breach Protection 2020.” In that same study, 87% of enterprises use antivirus (AV) software, which usually fits into a broader anti-malware category that also addresses threats like worms, bots and ransomware. As previously reported, enterprises can become overconfident that they have the controls and technology in place to effectively manage security risks. Has this happened with anti-malware software?

While the AV market is passe and mature, security vendors have not necessarily been complacent. They continue to monitor for new threats and have embraced a broader category, endpoint detection and response (EDR), that combines elements of anti-malware with newer tools that provide real-time anomaly detection, forensic analysis and remediation capabilities. Unsurprisingly, EDR is poised for rapid growth. Although only 28% of the Cynet survey use the technology, 57% said that EDR is the breach protection project they expect to concentrate on this year.

There are some indications that malware threats are abating. For example, the volume of malware attacks observed by SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers actually declined 6% to a measly 9.9 billion. Furthermore, according to Google’s Transparency Report the number of websites suspected of distributing malware is at its lowest point since 2007. Unfortunately, this decline has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in websites that phish for personal information without requiring a visitor to download something.

It appears that the coronavirus pandemic has spurred an outbreak of malware and scams. This article was not meant to be a bait-and-switch. The overwhelming body of evidence is that malware continues to be a top security threat. Just because people don’t talk about antivirus anymore, does not mean that it isn’t needed. Even as we focus on cloud native security, the “health” of open source communities and software supply chain security, rest assured that The New Stack maintains a broad, historical perspective.

A computer virus injects malicious code into files, and spreads within its host and potentially to other hosts. Most endpoint security products protect against this and several other types of malware. “Source: O. Or-Meir, N. Nissim, Y. Elovici, L. Rokach, “Dynamic malware analysis in the modern era—A state of the art survey”, CSURACM Comput. Surv., vol. 52, no. 5, pp. 1-48, Sep. 2019.

More Data Points and Charts to Consider

Feature image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay.

Participate in The New Stack surveys and be the first to receive the results of our original research.