Friday, February 11, 2005

Anti-adware misses most malware

In a somewhat depressing article entitled Anti-adware misses most malware, Brian Livinston reviews an anti-spyware study conducted by Eric Howes (at the University of Illinois in the US. Another study by the National Cyber Security Alliance suggests that: while 77% Think They Are Safe from Online Threats, in fact, 67% of Computers Lack Current Anti-Virus Software -and 1 in 5 Are Infected with Virus. Worse, 80% of Home Computers are infected with Spyware/Adware. There is clearly a huge perception gap here, with very some obvious security implications for anyone who uses the internet.

But the most interesting thing about Howe's research (and which you can really only discover by reading Livingston's analysis!) is how effective the existing programs actually are - or should I say how INEFFECTIVE. The most effective tool in Howe's tests was Giant AntiSpyware, which has been purchsed by Microsoft. But even this tool fixed less than two thirds of the adware that was installed. As many folks have been saying: you shoudl use more than one product to do spyware detection and removal. Livingston's analysis shows that using Giant plus other tools improves the perccentage of adware fixed (but this still leaves 30% or more of the adware!).

I take three things away from this article: the advertisers (and malware writers) are keeping ahead of the technology (which is scary enough), people are far less secure than they think they are, and while no product is perfect, MS certainly did buy the best of the anti-spyware bunch! The down side of that is that the bad guys are now targeting the MS anti-spyware package!

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