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Can the Malware Industry be Trusted?

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the surely-you-jest dept.

185

Joe Barr writes "Is the entire anti-virus / malware industry as rotten as it appears? I started digging into it as a result of the recent lame, unsubstantiated assertions of viral threats to Linux by Kaspersky Lab, but the practice doesn't seem to start or end with them. Who knows, maybe it's pandemic in that entire segment of the IT industry."

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gee... (5, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494590)

An industry blowing problems up to be bigger than they seem in order to sell more product? Conspiracy!

The only real crime here is that we've let ourselves be suckered by them for as long as we have.

Re:gee... (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494653)

> An industry blowing problems up to be bigger than they seem in order to sell more product? Conspiracy!

No, that's Government. (Wait, there's a difference?)

Re:gee... (3, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494945)

No, that's Government. (Wait, there's a difference?)

That's like saying there's no difference between the organ grinder and his trained monkey. Of course, there is a difference. One of them dances around, makes monkey noises, and steals stuff from you for the benefit of the other.

Re:gee... (2, Insightful)

scronline (829910) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494769)

Well, on the Windows platform it's well justified doom and gloom. But like with any corperation (read greedy) that sells a product, they are going to want to boost sales. So it's their job to state the reason(s) why their product is necessary. Many times the truth gets skewed in that process.

But regardless of the fact that ANY software producer will hype their product (As I'm sure you've seen by reading /. the words Microsoft and Yankee Group should spring to mind) you have to take that hype with a grain of salt. You can't buy into everything otherwise you're the gullible little sheep that they need/expect to survive. The aptly named Phantom console is a perfect example or even Duke Nukem Forever. However, I don't want to bash Kaspersky since after all, I prefer their AV software to any other mainstream product out there.

Either rate, Antivirus is a necessary evil. Using *NIX doesn't remove you from the responsibility of not forwarding an email virus because it's a funny joke. You may laugh, but there have been several times I've had people on Linux forwards me "jokes" with Windows viruses attached.

Re:gee... (2, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494866)

However, I don't want to bash Kaspersky since after all, I prefer their AV software to any other mainstream product out there

Nod32. Know it, love it.

You may laugh, but there have been several times I've had people on Linux forwards me "jokes" with Windows viruses attached.

Then that is the fault of a clueless email admin. I've setup many email servers, and I don't think a virus has ever made in past that point coming in or going out. It's quite simple really, which prompts me to call the admins in question idiots.

Bad title! (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494592)

Surely they mean the anti-malware industry?

Re:Bad title! (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494604)

Exactly. I read the title and thought of course we can't trust the people who write malware... they write malware!!

Re:Bad title! (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494795)

Next on Slashdot.. does that mugger demanding your wallet at knifepoint really have your best interests at heart? Stay tuned.

Title is chillingly apropos (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494631)


Not really...after all, these firms have absolutely no interest in eliminating the problem, but only in treating the symptoms. That's why they continually endorse an OS that is legendary for its security holes, while spreading FUD about more secure alternatives like *nix and MacOS, which have a chance of actually fixing the underlying problem.

Re:Title is chillingly apropos (3, Interesting)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494977)

What bugs me about the big guys is that they've become such gigantic products. They cause as many problems with their bloat as they fix, and they still don't fix everything (especially where Ad/Spyware is concerned). And this, of course, makes them REALLY not want to fix the underlying issue: people would start noticing that their computer starts up twice as fast and generally runs much better without some cyclopean anti-everything program.

Symantec Client Security started out as an OK little product. At the time, I was very impressed that its UI was so clean. Now, they're a complicated amalgams of firewall, AV, anti-spyware, Cuisinart and dishwasher. While I realize that they sell integration, there's no reason that integration need entail poor usability and baffling complexity. I once tried to get FTP to work on a relative's computer. I found that in Norton there was no firewall rule for FTP anywhere (or it was named something weird), yet it was blocking all traffic. My only option was to completely disable their firewall (and people get pretty mad when you tell to disable something they paid for.

The reason there's such a high pressure to integrate, of course, is that these guys make big bucks off of huge corporate licenses. Many IT or business development people I've talked to have said that they won't put anything except Norton on a desktop. I can see their point, because only dealing with one company means less IT and B2B overhead. And from Norton/Symantec's point of view, if they didn't offer a fully integrated solution, then somebody else would and they'd lose the client. So, they acquire every technology they possibly can and haphazardly jam it into their suite.

While I'm posting, I will admit that the article is least partially true. At my company [robotgenius.net] , we were somewhat embarassed to admit that we were sad when the first really apocalyptic adware site we'd found went offline. This wasn't because we wanted to drum up sales, but rather because they were a great test case for our technology.

That's baloney (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495000)

Migrating to another OS does NOT eliminate the people writing malware.
Changing your shoes does not change the weather.
But walking with sandals in a blizzard is not actually helping yourself.

Re:Title is chillingly apropos (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495018)

more secure alternatives like *nix and MacOS, which have a chance of actually fixing the underlying problem.

How so? When replying, please consider that I'm Joe Sixpack, armed with the root password, just enough smarts to install stuff and not enough smarts to not install bad stuff.

Re:Title is chillingly apropos (3, Interesting)

Y2 (733949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495160)

more secure alternatives like *nix and MacOS, which have a chance of actually fixing the underlying problem.
How so? When replying, please consider that I'm Joe Sixpack, armed with the root password, just enough smarts to install stuff and not enough smarts to not install bad stuff.

I put it this way: Windows' application integration is built on a base of executing as instructions anything it finds which can possibly be executed. Documents and help files have embedded controls to be executed by the system, to name just one example. MS has learned that this is dangerous behavior, but their ability to move away from this model is severely hampered by the need to maintain compatibility, even basic functionality, with a mountain of installed base.

Good point about "Eulaware" (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495192)

Linux and OS X have a good record for resisting drive-by installs. But as TimC points out, the threat model has to include users downloading dancing cursors and weather forecasting applets with 20-page EULAs, readable three lines at a time, which bury a cryptic line or two which means "all your base are belong to us".

There are operating systems that can protect against that threat. They're not mainstream in design, and neither Linux nor OS X is among them.

>please consider that I'm Joe Sixpack

Joe Sixpack -- four digit Slashdot id -- the cognitive dissonance is too much, I can't survi

Re:Title is chillingly apropos (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495205)

"...more secure alternatives like *nix and MacOS, which have a chance of actually fixing the underlying problem." How so? When replying, please consider that I'm Joe Sixpack, armed with the root password, just enough smarts to install stuff and not enough smarts to not install bad stuff.

Well, both of those OS's have some architectural advantages, like not needing to run network services for local actions, that make automated compromises less common. They both tend to be more responsive to vulnerabilities thus further reducing risks. They are motivated to fix the problems as developers are also users and no one has a monopoly to ensure income.

Mostly, it is this last aspect. Right now there are security features on certain linux distributions that if properly integrated into the OS and UI would make both automated attacks and trojans a whole lot harder to manage. They have not been integrated into mainstream distributions because, there is no real demand. Linux does not really have a malware problem because of the architectural choices, people who make up the user base, and the size of the user base. If, however, that were to change, I have no doubt developers would respond and implement them. Microsoft has not, because they just don't really care that much and have no motivation to do so.

Re:Title is chillingly apropos (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495086)

"Not really...after all, these firms have absolutely no interest in eliminating the problem, but only in treating the symptoms. "

Sounds familiar, hmm, where have I heard that business plan before?

Not a big coincidence that the anti-malware firms are doing so well, when their business model mimics that of the (consistent) market darlings for the last two decades, big pharma.

Re:Bad title! (3, Insightful)

gmf (810466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494636)

Surely they mean the anti-malware industry?
Maybe that's the same? Who knows?

Re:Bad title! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494677)

Parent: Insightful

Re:Bad title! (2, Insightful)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494787)

Rob T Firefly wrote:
Surely they mean the anti-malware industry?

I think there's a dubious market for malware. (Okay, so my old boss might be the type to commission a new virus, but most aren't.) The anti-malware markets need a continuous set of threats to be taken seriously and though they don't write the malware themselves, it's integral to their success in business.

Advice from industry experts giving 'analysis' such as "The smarter virus writers won't deploy their security compromises until after Vista actually ships." practically tells malware developers "If you're smart, you'll hold off on deploying your next big hack until after Vista ships so that your security hole won't be patched up before then."

When their analysts actually look seriously at alternitives that will reduce the scope of malware (such as moving to Linux or Mac OS X) then we may have real separation between the markets. Until then the anti-malware camp probably the most able to profit from (and legally disclaim responsibility for) the existence of malware.

Re:Bad title! (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494931)

(Shamelessly ripping off a comment half a page above) Wait, there's a difference?

It's hard to tell! (1)

jdbartlett (941012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495098)

McAfee somewhat blurs the distinction.

Re:Bad title! (1)

grommit (97148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495138)

I don't know about you but Norton's software is certainly malicious from my perspective.

wtf? (5, Insightful)

kunwon1 (795332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494595)

From TFA:
Today, players like McAfee, Symantec, Norton, and dozens of other firms fight for a share of a market worth tens-of-billions of dollars a year.

If this guy doesn't know that Symantec == Norton, I don't think I have any use for his opinions on malware companies.

Readers (2, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494794)

Not all the readers would necessarily know that the two are the same, so it might be just to impress both names in their mind. That or make the 'conspiracy' larger than it seems./

Re:Readers (1)

kunwon1 (795332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494816)

He referred to them as two separate firms. In either case, Slashdot is a site frequented by IT pros, or at the very least 'power users'. We don't need articles that are dumbed-down. No matter the reason, this guy lost credibility with that line.

Re:Readers (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494850)

I buy my products from Windows and XBox and Office. I like to diversify, it keeps me safer.

Re:Readers (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494934)

That's why you say "Symantec (the creators of Norton)" instead of structuring your sentence to make it seem as though Symantec and Norton were two different antivirus vendors. Either way it's a moot issue now as it seems the article has been corrected.

Re:Readers (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495076)

Then people will bitch that Symantec didn't create Norton, they bought it.

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15495051)

It looks like the author of the article edited it, removing Norton.

But he really should have just reworded the sentence.

Symantec AntiVirus and Norton AntiVirus are very different products even though they both belong to the Symantec corporation.

money (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494610)

If you assume that every person is motivated by money alone, then you are forced to conclude that anti-malware companies have the greatest incentive to produce malware.

Re:money (1)

Draelen (920902) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494790)

They don't need to do that, yet. Other people (motivated by money) do that job perfectly well for them already. All they need to do is simply convince people that their product is a must for survival on the internet.

Re:money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494973)

Are you trying a reductio, or are you just an idiot?

Re:money (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495122)

I think that even though the anti-malware industry surely tries to play fast and loose with the virus statistics and spread FUD for the less-vulnerable-by-design OSes (as we have seen in this article) that is not malicious at all- it's simply marketing. Just about every company (and especially politicians) everywhere will spin the facts to "create the need" for their products or services. However, I do not think that any anti-malware companies make viruses. That's a very good one for the conspiracy theorists as it certainly is possible and would be extremely lucrative, but the writers sometimes get caught. If a McAfee or Symantec got caught writing and releasing viruses, that would be all she wrote for the company's future- and not to mention that they are liable for any and all damages and lost time/income due to their virus infecting computer systems. Bottom line is that it's too big of a liability for them to make viruses. Besides, there are MORE than enough bored 28-year-olds living in their parents' basements to supply the world with viruses.

people DO believe this stuff (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494617)

Agree or disagree with the points of this article (I mostly agree), there is an elephant in the middle of the room everyone ignores.

From the article (emphasis mine):

Every year, US-Cert produces huge fireworks in the security trade press with their annual summary of misinformation about security flaws. The idiots in the press repeat the lie verbatim and the lie becomes real. What is the lie? That Unix/Linux is less secure than Windows. Granted, only the stupidest dolts in the universe -- and the trade press -- are going to buy that crap, but they put it out there anyway.

"Only the stupidest dolts in the universe?" Aside from being a little insulting, it's just not true. Many intelligent people believe these reports simply because, as the article points out elsewhere, because it is repeated the lie becomes truth.

People trust "media" to the extent they don't have expertise in some subject matter. What other result would you expect? There are too many topics, too many reports, and too many things demanding attention, general consumers and lay people, appropiately (though naively), rely on integrity of reporting bodies to filter that part of their world not their specialty(ies).

Reporting organizations (e.g., CERT) have an ethical responsibility to normalize and make canonical data issued for general consumption.

Unfortunately the technology world today is Microsoft's sandbox, and seemingly if anyone wants to play, be it media, competition, and lately even government, Microsoft seems to be able to control the rules. Sigh, again.

Mod parent up, please. (0, Redundant)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494749)


Yagu makes a good point...being in the IT industry, sometimes we mistakenly perceive things as being blindingly obvious, when in point of fact, it's still quite a mystery to the layman. Characterizing Joe Sixpack as a 'stupid dolt' equates ignorance with stupidity, which is fallacious and counterproductive.

Obviously, the 'stupid dolts' are smart enough to draw conclusions based upon the available intel they have access to...the real problem is that, as the author correctly pointed out, the lies are repeated until they become the truth. GIGO, and all that jazz.

There's no cure for stupidity, but there is a cure for ignorance: education. If we want to fight this FUD, we need to do it by teaching the truth, rather thn dismissing the vast majority of users as 'stupid dolts'. When we do that, we play right into the hands of the malware companies.

Re:Mod parent up, please. (1)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494869)

I whole-heartedly agree. When a user clicks on a .exe/.pif link in an e-mail/IM that says something like "omg picturz frum last nitee!", it's not their fault for being "stupid" -- they just don't know any better. They have a different "reality" as to how computers and the internet work. Why would their friend send them a virus? Why would a pop-up lie when it tells them it detected a virus on their computer and they needed to download malicious virusscanner 1.2 (the 'this installs even more viruses' edition)? Even in cases of phishing -- in their mind, the message says it's from 'so and so'. The populace must be educated to make the internet a safer place -- until then, the world will just be full of technical ignorance/misunderstanding. Now... the 4th or 5th time the same user clicks on the SAME .pif link... then it's okay to want to hit them.

Demand more from the IT press. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494874)

The issue is not whether Joe Sixpack believes what he reads ... it's whether the IT "journalist" merely repeated the claims of a company with a financial interest in fostering a certain perception.

Joe Barr admitted that he had done that with the claims about Apple, but he then spent time doing the research.

And the "journalists" that "report" on the IT industry have a long and colourful history of bias and willful ignorance. There is no excuse for that. And it is those reports by those "journalists" that keep Joe Sixpack so ignorant of the real facts.

Re:people DO believe this stuff (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494943)

You can't trust (U.S.) Media. In the cae of Jane Akre vs. Fox News, a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge ruled that Fox News (and by precident, every other media outlet) did not have a duty to report the news truthfully or factually.

Re:people DO believe this stuff (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495052)

People trust "media" to the extent they don't have expertise in some subject matter. What other result would you expect? There are too many topics, too many reports, and too many things demanding attention, general consumers and lay people, appropiately (though naively), rely on integrity of reporting bodies to filter that part of their world not their specialty(ies).

What should we expect? We should expect that if something is important to you, you at least do some research into it. It isn't like the information you'd need isn't out there.

Re:people DO believe this stuff (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495094)

"Only the stupidest dolts in the universe?" Aside from being a little insulting, it's just not true. Many intelligent people believe these reports simply because, as the article points out elsewhere, because it is repeated the lie becomes truth.

I don't mean to be semantic, but would not a truly "intelligent" being be able to be able to tell the truth from propaganda, exagerations, and lies? As in your mental capabilities has been fully developed to discern social engineering?

Otherwise, they wouldn't they wouldn't fit the text book of what intelligence is. A truly intelligent person would be able to know when someone is lying to him or at least take everything with a bit of disbelief. Perhaps a key feature of intelligence is its relationship with skepticism.

Of course an intelligent being can still go along with lies for other reasons such as the lie suits his needs or he simply chooses to ignore the lies because it doesn't apply to him.

Of course the devil advocate in me says even the most book smart person can be duped in a field that isn't related to him. As in... Sure I can do amazing things with computer technology, but I'm hard pressed to follow my car mechanic's description of my cars problems and be able to discern if the work he is suggesting really needs to be done. That of course doesn't make me a mindless idiot or dolt in my real line of work.

However, on the same token, if I was a car mechanic and a car parts person was trying to sell me the anti-mal-oil add-ons and I buy it without question and any real car mechanic worth his salt knows that is a waste of money then I am a certified dolt in my profession.

Re:people DO believe this stuff (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495127)

""Only the stupidest dolts in the universe?" Aside from being a little insulting, it's just not true."

Sure it's true. Assumption: the population considered includes only people who use computers and know that Linux/Unix/MacOS/Windows exists.

The stupidest dolts could be half the population if you wanted. No quantity of 'dolts' is specified, so for all it matters, the stupidest dolts could include all but the smartest dolt.

The real implication, however (and this is the part I love) is that it's logically implied that anyone who believes it is a dolt.

complete lame if you ask me. (0)

edgecrush3r (813974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494621)

Anyone can collect information about bluetooth devices on the go, and with simple Tooting action you could try to force the user install malicious software on his device. But whats the point of all this ?? In the end you gain not much, except for maybe a list of personal contacts which you can use for complete psychopate experiences. You dont need an array of devices to see if a certain exploid is working, just get your hands on the device implementation docs or just start reverse-engineering the stack on your own device. On an average train journey I discover 10/15 Bluetooth enabled devices on my Mobile. Using the same Mobile, I also discover 200/240 WiFi Access-Points with zero encryption if I travel by car. The latter at least gains enough connectivity to browse 'Slashdot'. Trying each door to see if a car is locked, is pointless unless your trying to steal it.

Re:complete lame if you ask me. (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494851)

Are you 100% certain you posted on the right story?

Gadzooks! (5, Funny)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494622)

Every year, US-Cert produces huge fireworks in the security trade press with their annual summary of misinformation about security flaws. [...] The summary gives a total for flaws found in Windows and another total for flaws found in Unix and Linux. Last year, those totals were 812 for Windows and 2,312 for Unix/Linux.

Oh ****! Quick, someone tell me how to upgrade to this "Windows" thing!

Re:Gadzooks! (1)

karait (711632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494687)

My conclusion would be that Windows has an alarming number of flaws for a system with almost no security.

Re:Gadzooks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494714)

If you're interested into better data then just ask the antivirus database of your antivirus program how many virii are known for Windows (that's definitely more than 2312)...additionally ask the creator of "AdAware" or comparable tools how many troyan horses and malware are known for Windows....

Re:Gadzooks! (1)

NoxNoctis (936876) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494741)

Pardon me for playing devil's advocate here, but... What was the average time taken to release a fix/patch for the security from the moment of discovery for both? I'm also curious how many of this vulnerabilities are still around? Without these bits of information the statistics you collected from the US-CERT are just numbers.

perceived standard? (5, Insightful)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494625)

Microsoft has established itself as a standard so much so that even a 'unbiased' consumer organization such as Consumer Reports basically only acknowledges MS when reviewing computers and making recommendations. Apple is a player but not top tier. It's no wonder AV companies pander to MS and spread FUD. Logically, one would think that a business that exists to correct flaws in another product would lead consumers to shy away form that product but no, because MS is a standard.

Re:perceived standard? (2, Interesting)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494847)

It's no wonder AV companies pander to MS and spread FUD. Logically, one would think that a business that exists to correct flaws in another product would lead consumers to shy away form that product but no, because MS is a standard.


Wait, why on earth would an industry that exists to correct flaws in another product lead consumers away from that product? If AV companies encouraged people to ditch Windows, actually be careful on the internet and take other measures to avoid malware, and people listened to them, the companies would go out of business. No Windows, no need for a Windows anti-virus.

I think it has nothing to do with MS being a "standard," its just the fact that the AV companies need Windows to have some holes in it (and need people to exploit these holes) in order to have any selling points for their software. It's "pander to MS" or go out of business.

Re:perceived standard? (2, Interesting)

tbannist (230135) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495044)

I think OffTheLip was referring to the obvious point that if a product has spawned an entire industry that revolves around fixing it so that it actually works, that potential customers should be wary of using that product due solely to the existence of that industry. It implies that there are very serious problems with the original product. I do not think he meant that the industry itself should be engaging in self-destructive activities.

The only situation where this is not the case is where the customers are convinced that there is no substitute for the product under consideration.

For example, you'd never eat at a restaurent that had a stomach pump kiosk set up out front that was doing a brisk business with departing patrons, would you?

Yet people still buy an operating system that requires you to have anti-malware and anti-spyware software running constantly to prevent your computer from being exploited by others.

worst submitted article text in a while (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494635)

took about 5 reads to actually parse wtf this was about.

not good.

The article itself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494761)

... is even lower quality. The inflammatory tone is just embarassing to read (though by and large, I agree with the gist of the content).

The Security Industry Does Not Want Security (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494645)

There's an entertaining presentation from Defcon X given by Gobbles (with help from Silvio Cesare and The Unix Terrorist) - 'Wolves Among Us' - the video is worth watching for a laugh, several laughs, at the expense of many so called experts. http://www.defcon.org/html/links/defcon-media-arch ives.html [defcon.org]

Silvio: "The Security Industry Does Not Want Security, They Want Insecurity"

Who would have guessed (1)

DoChEx (558465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494654)

Seriously, people buy anti-virus because they fear viruses, who tells them what viruses to fear??? How strange that those anti-virus companies are all doom and gloom.

Can they be trusted? (2, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494661)

Sure.

OK if I install this spyware in your computer and just backup your credit card numbers for you without your permission?

Thanks.

Oh, no, that's ok, you don't have to answer. We'll do it anyway.

I trust some of the anti-malware industry (2, Interesting)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494668)

Well, I certainly don't trust the malware industry :)
Seriously, however, I never buy any peice of security software without looking for testing results and reviews.
Also, I will never use any product that makes false positives intentionally (to scare the user into using/buying the product). That's just asking for trouble.

Re:I trust some of the anti-malware industry (2, Interesting)

goldaryn (834427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494758)

> Also, I will never use any product that makes false positives intentionally

Hmm, you make an interesting point. Ever notice that when you run one of these expensive security suites and you don't get any meaningful results, you always get a couple of "dangerous" cookies found, just to keep the results above zero?

The logic must be: Don't tell them it's clean. Use fud if necessary.

Answer (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494693)

Yes it is, and no it can't.

Fear and Protection Rackets (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494700)

The whole thing is a protection racket. The more they can make you afraid of the consequenses and aware of the "threat" the more you are willing to pay for protection. The whole thing is based on a vulnerable infrastructre.

If there was a solid infrastructre that was trusted the whole industry would disappear. The industry is based on the Microsoft Operating system and its designed vulnerabilities. The industry would not exist without the flaws in the Microsoft Operating systems and workflow. If Microsoft fixed its stuff, or if people migrated to a solid infrastucture the industry would disappear. I am sure the industry as a whole is looking at Linux as a big threat, it could destroy their whole reason for existing.

As a whole the Linux client is not a market for this industry. They need to make Linux/OSS users feel the threat so we will by their product.

Re:Fear and Protection Rackets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494859)

> consequenses
> infrastructre
> infrastructre
> infrastucture
> need to make [...] users feel the threat so we will by their product.

The real question: how can we scare you into buying Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing?

Re:Fear and Protection Rackets (1)

Davorama (11731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495144)

The whole thing? Let's not get carried away, please. The bad guys are out there. They are writing viruses and ammassing botnets for fun and profit. They are out to get you.

TFA is on the mark in terms of the vacuous ethics of computer security software press releases and scare mongering but that doesn't mean that solid, secure operating systems would elliminate the need for anti-malware products. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think the patching mechanisms for Linux distros and Macs or are so fantastic and/or timely that they could keep infestations at bay in the face of the zero-days they would face if they each had a third of the market.

Ethics and Morality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494704)

Can Malware Industry be Trusted?

Unfortunately, Ethics and Morality are lacking in many Industries and Corporations.

AV for MacOSX: $59 -- Why? (4, Informative)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494717)

Agreed, the industry is full of FUD, along with other substances.

Noticed a copy of AntiVirus for Mac OSX @ CompUSA last week. $59! Three questions:
1) Who buys this stuff?
2) Why so much?
3) Why?

To my knowledge there is only one virus in the wild for OSX and it never really made an impact. I understand that AV for Mac scans for the billions of Windows viruses, but considering that the Mac is extraordinarily unlikely to become infected, it's similarly unlikely a Mac will pass on a virus. I know it's part of being a good net citizen, but ultimately scanning email is your own responsibility. I don't scan for Linux or mainframe viruses, or iPaq scripts. Why should I scan for Windows viruses?

Or am I missing something?

Re:AV for MacOSX: $59 -- Why? (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494821)

Who buys this? Obviously you are not in the IT industry! :-)

Serriously, my dept insists on AV/Anti-Malware software on EVERYTHING (even Macs)because my boss's boss (CIO) can be fired if we lose data and she wants someone to blame. The theory is that eventually someone will create a virus for OS X and then we will be prepared. Whatever. I just fill out the P.O.s and do what I'm told.

Keep you boss's boss off your boss's back. That's my motto.

Re:AV for MacOSX: $59 -- Why? (1)

scottme (584888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494870)

No idea [apple.com] .

Re:AV for MacOSX: $59 -- Why? (4, Interesting)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494940)

Symantec AntiVirus products for Mac (in my experience) are incredibly popular among people moving from PC's to Macs: the so called "Switcher" market. It's really just a matter of having built a reputation on fear in one market and the user feeling naked without that product.

Some argue that it's not bad to have a security infrastructure in-place, even if theres very little self-propagaiting malware out there. It makes one "ready" to deal with the inevitable threats when they are discovered. It makes one confident that they will be the first ones to recognize and recover from any future infection.

That seems like a good idea until you realize that to install and remove malware means the software will need to operate with very high permissions. Installing programs like Clam or Symantec Antivirus are possibly giving hackers more potential ways to exploit your system than if you hadn't installed the anti-malware to begin with. I think there actually have been low-level, local security holes found based soleley on security software that the user has installed.

On the Mac, I think there is more harm than good done right now with anti-virus products. It's almost like feeling you must hang that lucky pair of fuzzy dice in your new car because you think it helps you not have accidents, when in fact their interference in your driving might be what causes you to have one.

Re:AV for MacOSX: $59 -- Why? (1)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494952)

> Or am I missing something?

You're thinking about practical and effective anti-virus measures. Think stupider.

Some organizations have a high-level policy that says that all machines must have up-to-date anti-virus software, and until you can certify that this is the case, you can't use the corporate network, because your MAC address will not be on the router's whitelist.

You can bribe the IT guys (probably more than $60), you can hack your MAC to an allowed one (possible MAC collision, lose your job if you get caught), or you can buy AV for your Mac.

Re:AV for MacOSX: $59 -- Why? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494993)

MS Office macro-virii, such as Concept, are cross platform.

Where you find MS, you also find virii.

Source for the most effective AV (2)

lightyear4 (852813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495181)

#include
#include "OStest.h";

main(){
if((is_OSX() || is_Unixey()) && !has_slashdot_flames()){

printf ("Scanning for viruses..........!");
printf ("None found! Goodbye! \n");

}else if(is_MS_OS())

printf ("AHHH!!!!!! $@$*!@*&DU}{#$%3xfad\n");
printf ("\n");
printf ("You're screwed, sorry. \n");
printf ("\n");
printf ("caused an invalid page fault in \n");
printf ("module ORA2.EXE at 0137:0044dba7.\n");
printf ("Registers:\n");
printf ("EAX=0258f108 CS=0137 EIP=0044dba7 EFLGS=00010202\n");
printf ("EBX=00459630 SS=013f ESP=0258d840 EBP=0258f158\n");
printf ("Bytes at CS:EIP:\n");
printf ("c7 42 08 84 60 45 00 89 d1 83 c1 10 89 4a 4c 89\n");
printf ("Stack dump:\n");
printf ("0258f4f8 0258f608 00401781 5328203d 3d204449 43524f20 2929294c\n");
printf ("65722041 72697571 2e206465 204c4c44 656c6966 7325202c 6177202c\n");
printf ("6f6e2073 6f662074\n");
}
}

What a stupid title (2, Insightful)

guspasho (941623) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494733)

"Can the Malware Industry be Trusted?"

Of course it can't! It's the friggin' malware industry! Their business plan centers around installing stuff on your PC that you don't want on there and didn't ask for, and abusing your PC without your permission for their own purposes. Why on God's green earth would someone like that be trusted?

Re:What a stupid title (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494748)

I agree. I had to convince myself I wasn't reading Digg!

Work on your public image (5, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494740)

From TFA "The idiots in the press repeat the lie verbatim and the lie becomes real. What is the lie? That Unix/Linux is less secure than Windows. Granted, only the stupidest dolts in the universe -- and the trade press -- are going to buy that crap, but they put it out there anyway."

idiots, dolts, crap. There is a lot of name calling in there. He sounds like a teenager complaining about her friends. I don't claim to be the most articulate person around, but this guy shouldn't be writing articles. People judge you by the words you use. I got so distracted by his name calling I had to post before finishing the article, and I'm wondering if I'll be able to reach the end or take his side given the tone.

Re:Work on your public image (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494789)

Agreed. I read that far and stopped reading. Maybe I'm being overly harsh and judgemental, but I'm busy, and don't have time to waste on the sort of article that that gave me the impression this was going to be.

Sure, it's an opinion piece, but name-calling isn't called for.

Re:Work on your public image (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494830)

Hmm. I notice our IT guy at work claims that Windows is more secure than Linux or OSX. I also notice that he refuses to take my challenge to put freshly installed Windows, OSX and Linux machines on the open internet for 24 hours to see which of them get compromised. He's gone so far as to claim that OSX "Wouldn't even be a challenge for hackers." There'd probably be no work for the IT department if the company switched to OSX, so I suppose it's understandable that he takes that position. Sure does make him sound like an idiot though.

In the news (4, Funny)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494750)

- The malware industry cannot be trusted to report when things are improving or a better alternative to their bread and butter os exists.

- Doctors poor at telling hypochondriac when there is nothing wrong with them.

- Car companies not reliable source of information about bicycles and public transit.

- Lawyers cannot be trusted to create legislation that doesn't criminalize everything.

- Politicians appear to be lying or misleading to get elected.

- Wolves unwilling to notify sheep in advance of attack.

Parent Insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15495125)

Parent Insightful

job security (1)

jaimz22 (932159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494811)

i've always thought that maybe anti-virus and anti-spyware companies would produce virus's and spyware, i mean how do you get better job security than fixing something that you broke.. and people STILL say thanks!

Re:job security (2, Interesting)

boldtbanan (905468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494932)

i've always thought that maybe anti-virus and anti-spyware companies would produce virus's and spyware, i mean how do you get better job security than fixing something that you broke.. and people STILL say thanks!
Yeah, like Microsoft's announced entry into the anti-virus industry. You can actually find a way to profit from your screw ups (or active sabotage if you're even more insidious).

Anti-malware should stay in the people's hands (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494813)

This is my reason for liking Clam antivirus, an open source product and maintained by the public. The governments should sponsor such products with constant donations.

You used to be able to trust them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494836)

... but then, you used to be able to trust slashdot to put a disclaimer in the article when linking to sites owned by the same company.

their motivation (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494841)

Malware publishers are motivated by the money they get from what they do. It's not about morals, it's not about good business, it's ONLY about money. Money is the most powerful motivator there is. If you wave enough cash in front of a group of people, no matter what they have to do, someone will take you up on your offer.

There will always be takers. So by default we can say that the malware business will remain rotten to the core until it is not only made illegal, but also prossicuted ruthlessly until which point it is neither proffitable nor worth the risks. Right now, there are mountains of money to be made, and little or no risk of prossicution, so it continues unchecked.

Don't expect this to change any time soon.

Old Story (1)

LukePieStalker (746993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494854)

As long as there have been companies selling antivirus software, the rumor has been circulated that they were also developing new viruses to keep themselves in business. In reality, I think that there will always be plenty of "volunteers" to handle this aspect of the business for them.

The Malware industry can be trusted ... (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494860)

The Malware "industry" can be trusted to do what is best for the Malware industry.

The anti-Malware industry, which is what this article is talking about, can be trusted to do what's best for the anti-Malware industry.

The former are Black Hat. Let's hope the latter are and remain White Hat.

never buy antivirus/whatever (1)

deviceb (958415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494868)

i have always believed the people producing the most garbage on the net are the people who's jobs are supported by it. use AVG free personal ad aware free a firewall and your all set. I have been running this setup for years with 0 issues. (i even missed on on the sony rootkit because i listen to streamed music ;) yay me

Does This Prove His Claims? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494875)

I always thought my experience here was ironic. Any thoughts? I mean I have to set my computer to promiscuous to install an anti-virus program! Weird.
http://www.blendedtechnologies.com/mcaf-irony/67 [blendedtechnologies.com]

Can the ****** industry be trusted? (3, Insightful)

shodai (970706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494876)

No.

Trust the Volcano Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15495140)

I saw a special on Quahog 5 news. According to Trishia Takinowa, you can trust the Volcano Insurance industry. Especially if there hasn't been an eruption in awhile... it only increases the odds!

Yes, Rotten To The Core (2, Insightful)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494896)

Yes, the anti-virus industry is as rotten as it appears, if not more so. In talking to non-expert computer users who use anti-virus, anti-virus causes more problems than it solves. Anti-viral software with automatic updating is essentially like installing a rootkit on your computer controlled by the anti-virus vendor. With just a little bit of training, and perhaps a different email client than Outlook, as well as using Firefox instead of (or patching) IE, viruses and malware are easily avoided.

Anyone who is serious about security doesn't run anti-virus because it does not fix the root issues of vulnerability.

Thy key is that anti-virus can be sold on fear and, since the average computer user doesn't understand that there is nothing mystical about viruses and their vectors are easily identified, fear sells a product that actually makes your computer less secure and less usable. That said, there are some good free programs out there, like ClamAV and Spybot Search & Destroy to help you as a system administrator check out suspicious files or clean up a mess on a specific case by case basis (the latter only applying to Windows).

Re:Yes, Rotten To The Core (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15495053)

Anyone who is serious about security doesn't run anti-virus because it does not fix the root issues of vulnerability.

I don't quite buy that, sir. I am serious about security, I don't use Outlook or IE and I still use antivirus software. Why? Because I don't have control of my Windows machine. Microsoft does. And, damnit, there have been just too many instances where Microsoft, for their own reasons, deliberately re-install, re-enable, or just invoke their own software even though I tell Windows specifically NOT to. With Windows, you don't even have any control over the root issues of vulnerability.

Too pejorative (4, Informative)

Himring (646324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494910)

Every year, US-Cert produces huge fireworks in the security trade press with their annual summary of misinformation about security flaws. The idiots in the press repeat the lie verbatim and the lie becomes real. What is the lie? That Unix/Linux is less secure than Windows. Granted, only the stupidest dolts in the universe -- and the trade press -- are going to buy that crap, but they put it out there anyway.

I got to that point in the article and remembered the red ink on a paper I wrote in grad school, wherein the professor said, "too pejorative to be taken as an objective analysis of the topic."

In all things academic or reporting, if you do not really have it, then at least fake objectivity....

seen this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15494913)

Rewind to 1998 everybody. I read one article during the "millenium crisis" about a school district that bought all new refrigerators because some "expert" told them that their regular refrigerators weren't Y2K compliant and they might stop working - or blow up. We've seen the junk science before, we see it today - it will be with us tomorrow my brothers.

Counterpoint (2, Insightful)

sopwith (5659) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494946)

Whether or not the malware industry can be trusted, anyone who calls a company a "servile buffoon" probably can't be trusted to be a impartial and logical journalist.

Things are never as extreme as they seem - there are good & bad guys (and in-between guys, and girls too! :) in both the anti-malware and journalism industries. I don't trust the Kaspersky Kooks at all, but McAffee and some of the other companies (e.g. PC Tools Software, F-Secure) do have some credibility in my book.

Then too, we know that the only way that all those evil writers can sell their stories is to make them sound melodramatic... :P

No! Stay vulnerable. Please. (4, Insightful)

xkr (786629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494955)

The anti-malware software industry is like the insurance industry. They want to provide their paying customers with benefit, but the last thing they ever want to do is encourage consumer behavior, law, or product changes that actually eliminate the problem, thus putting themselves out of business.

No, not really (2, Insightful)

FishandChips (695645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15494963)

Perhaps the question needs wider phrasing: can the IT industry - not just the malware side - be trusted? Personally I don't think so because they seem addicted to denying the consequences of their own actions or foisting the cost on the public. You can see this everywhere from the paltry, tokenish efforts to tackle malware and spam by corporations that regularly turn in billions in profits, to the Heath-Robinson-like, energy-guzzling design of the PC itself, to dumping clean up and recycling via shady deals with the Chinese. Let's not even look at moral issues like DRM and Hollywood or Chinese censors.

OTOH, no industry can be trusted. If it wasn't for some tireless public-minded advocates the auto industry would probably have us still driving deathtraps with engines designed in the 1950s or the pharma industry, for example, would have us growing three heads while being charged 50 bucks for a paracetamol.

Viral linux threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15495154)

I am the biggest proponent of linux and use it daily, even on this laptop.
The assertion and assumption that linux is immune to worms, viruses and other stuff that affects windows today, is dangerous.

Linux just isn't a common target.

As more people migrate to linux, you'll see more people running and living in it as root out of stupidity and/or ignorance. If you run as root, you are just as vulnerable as an average home user running windows.

When people start targeting linux for viruses and other malware, you'll see the same issues for the same reason.

-AC

Welcome to the world of big business. (1)

Blue6 (975702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495155)

Is this really any different then what a lot of industries do? Just turn on your television and your bombarded with drug company ads for E.D. and a myriad of other aliments. Now excuse me while I go take my pills for restless leg syndrome.

Conspiracy? Maybe. Stupidity? Definitely. (4, Insightful)

GregStevensLA (976873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495167)

Can the anti-malware industry be trusted? Can microsoft be trusted? Can the IT industry be trusted?

One thing that all of this overlooks, is that it doesn't take malice for hysteria to spread.

premise: people fear what they don't understand.
premise: most people don't understand computers.

I have a friend who fancied himself a home-taught computer expert. Armed with TweakXP, a few anti-virus tools, and a small handful of other gadgets, he was always offering to "optimize" and "fix" his friends' computers.

And lo! and behold, every single computer that was ever brought to him had "a major virus" or "a serious trojan" problem on it. Of course, there is so much media hype about viruses (and people's bad browsing habits) that this was fairly believable. However, the mere consistency of his diagnoses started making me suspicious....

Sure enough, after a few in-depth conversations, it turns out that he was using bad virus-detection software: some unknown little program that he assumed was "better than all the rest" because it "always found more" (it didn't occur to him that most of them were false positives); and moreover, it turns out he didn't even have a clear understanding of what a "virus" is.

But let me tell you: he had a stream of people in and out of his apartment that were absolutely convinced that ANY time there was EVER a problem with their machine, it MUST have been because of a virus.

Three words about the antimalware industry: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15495169)

Zero Day Exploits.

2 more words:

Snake oil.

The best protection against malware is dumping Microsoft. No other platform is vulnerable. Your best argument against this is to write a Linux or Mac or BSD virus and dissiminate it.

Good luck, Symantic et al have been trying for years to no avail.

Why I don't trust them at all (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15495180)

Not since F-Secure "discovered" the Sony RootKit and decided "work with Sony" rather than remove that crap from my system have I trusted them. In fact, as a litmus test ANY anti-virus software that still doesn't immediately and completely remove all known Sony and other DRM infections is just shy of useless in my opinion. They clearly do not have my own user's interests at heart -- and we're the ones paying these jokers! Removing StarForce would be nice too!
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