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No defence for outdated defenders as consumer AV nears RIP • The Register

No defence for outdated defenders as consumer AV nears RIP • The Register
Written by publisher team

Opinion The game knows the game. So it comes as no surprise that Norton Consumer Security software has not only created an encryption tool that distracts from the core of your PC’s life and skips the pieces, but it’s even harder to turn off.

A marriage not made in heaven but elsewhere: Consumer-level antivirus software has always had a mixed reputation, and it deserves a lot more. But how did we come to carry such a high parasite burden in 2022?

Some of this is technical. The first generations of malware for computers developed standard techniques to spread and protect themselves. Rootkit methods were popular, monitoring and modifying operating system calls to corrupt and harm target files, and distract scans or investigations by returning false information. This means flooding the operating system with minimal and control – exactly the same techniques that early AV software used to detect and neutralize viruses while defending itself from attacks in turn.

The knowledge needed to build viruses was practically the same as the knowledge required for antivirus software, and a conspiracy theory emerged that vendors of less accurate antiviral compounds were generating viruses as well as stimulating the market. The industry certainly had characters capable of such advanced antics—watch the self-confessed John McAfee spreading malware—but whether or not this actually happened, in the end, didn’t matter. Antivirus software’s behavior can come close to malware that claims to be deviating.

The code that takes on the task of intercepting file operations, which maintains huge databases of virus signatures and scans drives, must be well-written and reliable to avoid becoming a denial-of-service malware itself. It can slow down a user’s computer, increase the frequency of crashes, or misidentify and isolate legal code as containing viruses. A lot of AV code is not well written.

Oh, it turns out that installing a large chunk of third-party code with hooks deep into your system increases the surface area of ​​the threat and provides an enticing new target for malware. Did the malware take advantage? Of course I did.

Then there was the question even when it wasn’t broken, did it work? In the pre-Internet days, virus signature updates had to be distributed on a floppy disk and couldn’t hope to keep up with the speed at which viruses spread themselves.

Attempts to identify viruses by behavior rather than by code signature have faltered, as there is no bright line between malicious code behavior and good faith. Because of the ever-changing threat environment, it has never been possible to run final tests on which package works best: this can change from week to week.

With the Internet becoming popular, it is easier to update virus databases – to create and spread new viruses.

All this would be bad enough, were it not for the business models that have evolved around antivirus software. It became common to ship computers with “try before you buy” AV packages that encouraged a new user to activate the software for free, only to receive really terrifying warnings after a month or so about bombing for continued protection.

If it was so bad, how did this sector make so much money? Some players have been, and still are, conscientious and efficient, thriving in the enterprise while maintaining a consumer presence. But mostly, end users have no way of making an informed decision here, even though they have a very deep and logical desire to defer such decisions to the entities they want to trust. calendar? Delicious cash flow with no particular incentive to invest in product improvement.

This ends up being many sins – both Norton and McAfee got into hot water recently due to severe business practices. The status of consumer antivirus as a conduit for commerce can overwhelm the commercial potential to offer a pure security game, thus we end up with an encryption service with your scanner.

At the same time that AV software got worse, computers got better. The first PC virus, the 1986 Brain, may not have had the Internet to spread through, but its hosts were computers with no immune system at all. There are no hardware memory managers, no operating system with any concept of inter-process protection – hardly a process concept – and no concept of privileges or accounts or any form of restricting access to software or hardware. The systems are fixed every year or so. By the time the first generation of AV software appeared at the turn of the decade, things had hardly changed. AV had a reasonable cause for its existence.

right Now? Even the most malicious computers have hardware and software architectures that can, and are often configured, to be very resilient against traditional virus attacks. The observer may have noted that data security has not been resolved – but the attacks are not the kind that consumers residing in AV software can do.

Endpoint protection is managed in the cloud, whether it’s explicit anti-malware services, OS-led protection as seamless as Chrome OS, or through powerful online patching, it’s as good as it gets. Stay informed, the third party security software that you have to manage has absolutely no right to use your system.

For most of its life, the consumer audiovisual vehicle industry has seemed almost as problematic as the things it defends against. Now there is no doubt: once on a par, it has become a complete parasitic pathogen. Its stature is long gone. Implemented. say goodbye ®

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