Is Antivirus really dead? It depends on what you call Antivirus

Every once in a while, someone or some company in the information security industry comes up and says, “antivirus is dead.” This happened again last week, when Symantec’s Brian Dye told the Wall Street Journal that antivirus was dead and that it was no longer a “moneymaker.”


Avira Security Expert and Product Manager Sorin Mustaca tells us via email:

“This hardly comes as news for anyone in the security industry who’s been in the business for more than a few years. I’ve written in April 2014 in the Virus Bulletin magazine an article called ‘Is the IT security industry up to the new challenges to come?’ where I describe exactly this situation.

For the past 25 years, the IT security industry has done a great job of protecting users against existing and emerging threats, in the form of files (copied, downloaded or emailed), streams of data (remember Code Red), and recently, even against common vulnerabilities in third-party software. We started with Windows, continued with MacOS and Linux, and lately we have extended the protection to mobile devices running various operating systems.

Saying that the ‘Antivirus is dead’ is incomplete. The classical antivirus, the one that works only with signatures or patterns, might be dead – but dead as in not enough anymore. These days, all antivirus companies that want to make a difference, are doing more than providing signatures.

The detection of malicious software using signatures worked well until late 90′ beginning of 2000, because the bad guys were too slow in creating malware. Since then, the bad guys got organized and are much faster.

Now, we are adding cloud detections, sandboxes, heuristics, artificial intelligence and more.

IT security got so complex these days, that it is no longer enough to just install a software to detect malicious programs. An effective security product contains a suite of programs that deal also with web threats, vulnerabilities in 3rd party software, mail threats (spam, phishing) and a firewall.

To conclude, I would like to say that ‘the antivirus is dead, long live the antivirus.’ Or perhaps, it would be better to not even call it antivirus at all.”

© Copyright Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca
Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since over 20 years in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is CEO and owner of Endpoint Cybersecurity GmbH focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .
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