News

Why Anti-virus Software Doesn’t Always Guarantee Safety

Tue, 19/04/2016 - 07:51
Cloud Services

When we say “anti-virus” software we really mean anti-malware. Anti-virus software packages nowadays are bundled with numerous malware detection and elimination features to keep your computing environment safe. Safety, regarding malware, is unfortunately a relative term. The traditional practice is that you install your preferred anti-virus softwareon each computer in your business and voila! You are protected from a security breach and a subsequent data loss – almost.

Relatively safe from malware 

The faster the speed of new virus and malware varieties are being developed, the slower the solutions seem to come to light. The reason for this lies in the exponential replication and distribution of several types of malware like worms, Trojan horses and self-perpetuating viruses.
 
The Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (Volume 17) of mid-2014, indicated an encounter rate as high as 25.9 per cent in Turkey and 28.4 per cent in India. The UK sits at 3.3 per cent of Trojan encounters and 1.1 per cent of worms and viruses. Fortunately, an encounter rate is not the same as an infection rate. Encounters are successfully averted infections.
 
The people hard at work trying to combat these infections are constantly being put to the test. An independent anti-virus software tester evaluated twenty-three providers and found that most of them had room for improvement when it came to malware removal. Most scored high marks for malicious file detection. The high scorers were Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab, ESET, AVIRA and Emsisoft. Strangely enough, other popular providers like Avast, McAfee and Trend Micro scored well in file detection but lower in actual malware removal.

Vulnerabilities to be exploited 

Apart from malware actively causing disruption and loss to computer resources and data, there is a more passive contender to deal with. Vulnerabilities. A flaw in the design or programming of a software product can make it vulnerable to exploitation. This exploitation essentially creates backdoors through firewalls, loopholes through security authenticators and blind spots in internet confidentiality.
 
A vulnerability can only be repaired or protected if it is known which is why the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database is open to collaboration across the globe and keeps people informed in these possible exploitations. By the middle of 2014, a third of these disclosures were of high-severity vulnerabilities (an 8-10 out of a score from 1-10). This means that a vulnerability is easily exploited with a high impact if successful.

How to protect yourself 

Coupling a software vulnerability with an automated and aggressive malware attack can bring an infected business to its knees. A Gartner report on worldwide information security predicts that by 2015, nearly 10 per cent of enterprise-level IT security will be delivered in the cloud. This is due to the cost advantage of cloud services and more scalable solutions adding pressure to the market, coupled with increased pressure to comply with Data Protection Act in the UK and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
 
With this added value to cloud services, it is becoming more feasible to also use it as a data backup storage facility for the purpose of disaster recovery. Traditional backup is on its way out with technologies that allow you to mount a set of backup data as a virtual drive without literally restoring any of it. Data recovery solution providers also mention combining this with a method that restores your data as-and-when you access it. These solutions facilitate an instant resumption of business operations by leveraging your off-site cloud backups thereby providing instant access to it from any location with internet access.

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