Giving AV the Hard Shoulder*

The Register’s John Leyden has harsh words to say today about problems with security software: "Once, running Windows anti-virus was like driving down a dual carriageway. These days, it’s more like an unpaved road."

Well, I can understand his viewpoint, though given the sheer volume of security products these days, I’m not sure a small cluster of high profile events involving some major vendors really signifies that anti-malware maintenance standards have degraded.

To be honest, I was directly responsible for administering anti-malware products from 1989 to 2001, and indirectly responsible from 2001 to 2006 (even I couldn’t be personally responsible for maintaining three million machines!) and I wouldn’t have compared any of the products I used to a dual carriageway. Perhaps if any of those sites had used ESET products…  

Based on that experience, and the certain knowledge that the job of maintaining a sound anti-malware solution is far more complex and resource-intensive than we’d have dreamt of it becoming in the early 90s, I’d say that the industry does pretty well, as a whole. I remember Alan Solomon talking then about the glut problem, but our labs see something like 100,000 unique samples a day nowadays. There aren’t many types of software that could accommodate such continuous pressure to update and upgrade with so few major problems.

*Yes, I did steal that from an Adrien Henri poem c. 1967: "Song for a Beautiful Girl Petrol-Pump Attendant on the Motorway."

David Harley BA CISSP FBCS CITP
Director of Malware Intelligence

Author David Harley, ESET

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