Risk
8/17/2010
03:24 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Anti-Virus Suite Protection? Not Much

It's no secret that anti-virus software doesn't do much to protect you against new and rapidly moving viruses, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that these suites don't do much good defending you against exploit code, either. A fresh evaluation from NSS Labs reveals just how vulnerable you really are.

It's no secret that anti-virus software doesn't do much to protect you against new and rapidly moving viruses, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that these suites don't do much good defending you against exploit code, either. A fresh evaluation from NSS Labs reveals just how vulnerable you really are.One of the reasons I've always taken interest in NSS Labs reports is because they are independently conducted and not funded by the security firms tested. In this report, NSS Labs tested the leading corporate anti-virus and end-point anti-virus applications on their ability to protect the host from exploit attacks. Exploit code is software that leverages application vulnerabilities to gain access. Many attacks today are in fact exploit-based attacks that are delivered in e-mail and malicious or compromised web sites and target web browsers, plug-ins, and client-side applications. These are the kinds of attacks that made the now famous Operation Aurora attack on Google and many other U.S. companies possible, and were heavily reported on earlier this year.

To conduct this test, NSS Labs took 123 common and already public exploits (many have been public for awhile, some years even) and tested them against a selection of the leading anti-virus vendors: AVG, Norman, ESET, Panda, F-Secure, Sophos, Kaspersky, Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro.

The results are dismal and, according to NSS Labs, reveal that about 75 percent of organizations are not adequately protected.

How unprotected?

Well, the average protection score was 76 percent against the original exploit and 58 percent for a similar or alternative exploit. Note these exploits were not obfuscated in any way, according to NSS Labs. So many attacks in the real-world would even be more successful.

In baseball, a 76% average would be outstanding. When protecting your data: not so much.

But when one looks beneath the averages the results are even worse. Only one vendor, the highest ranked, stopped all exploits thrown at it. The lowest ranked vendor didn't even manage to stop 70 percent of the exploits thrown at it.

Symantec, according to the report, only managed to stop 71 percent of the exploits thrown at it.

These just aren't acceptable results. So not only are software vendors not investing enough to develop applications that will keep your data safe, but neither are most of the vendors that purport to protect you.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-9651
Published: 2015-08-28
Buffer overflow in CHICKEN 4.9.0.x before 4.9.0.2, 4.9.x before 4.9.1, and before 5.0 allows attackers to have unspecified impact via a positive START argument to the "substring-index[-ci] procedures."

CVE-2015-1171
Published: 2015-08-28
Stack-based buffer overflow in GSM SIM Utility (aka SIM Card Editor) 6.6 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a long entry in a .sms file.

CVE-2015-2987
Published: 2015-08-28
Type74 ED before 4.0 misuses 128-bit ECB encryption for small files, which makes it easier for attackers to obtain plaintext data via differential cryptanalysis of a file with an original length smaller than 128 bits.

CVE-2015-6266
Published: 2015-08-28
The guest portal in Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) 3300 1.2(0.899) does not restrict access to uploaded HTML documents, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information from customized documents via a direct request, aka Bug ID CSCuo78045.

CVE-2015-6267
Published: 2015-08-28
Cisco IOS XE before 2.2.3 on ASR 1000 devices allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (Embedded Services Processor crash) via a crafted L2TP packet, aka Bug IDs CSCsw95722 and CSCsw95496.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Another Black Hat is in the books and Dark Reading was there. Join the editors as they share their top stories, biggest lessons, and best conversations from the premier security conference.