Tom Olzak

Internet Security Threats Short-lived?

In malware on August 17, 2009 at 08:24

During my daily review of security RSS feeds, I stumbled upon a PCWorld article entitled Internet Security Threats: Swift and Short-Lived.  The first paragraph read,

Internet security threats such as worms and trojans last for just 24 hours, says Panda Security.

Wow!.  Somebody must have figured out how to cleanse the millions of infected machines connected to the Web, because that is the only way an Internet threat is eliminated.  However, that was not the case.  Instead, this was apparently a statement about the effectiveness of certain AV solutions. 

To make a blanket statement about killing worms and viruses, rendering them impotent, is a little misleading.  Worms and other nasties released into the wild have a life of their own, infesting unprotected systems, waiting for the opportunity to infest computers of users who don’t patch, don’t keep their AV systems up-to-date, or connect to the Web from behind a firewall/router. 

If you want to test just how much bad stuff is still out there, simply attach an unprotected Windows PC directly to your ISP (connected straight into your cable modem, DSL modem, etc.) and let it cook for a few days.  Then, do some surfing and downloading of “free” stuff.  (No, don’t use it to check your bank balance.) Finally, install your favorite AV software, start a scan, and stand back.  After you’ve had your fun, remember to wipe the hard drive before using the machine for anything serious.

Yes, anti-malware defense is rather mature.  Yes, a well-managed system and network can repel most old threats.  But don’t assume they’re not still out there.

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