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
Cartoon
Latest Comment: nice post
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-1750
Published: 2015-07-01
Open redirect vulnerability in nokia-mapsplaces.php in the Nokia Maps & Places plugin 1.6.6 for WordPress allows remote attackers to redirect users to arbitrary web sites and conduct phishing attacks via a URL in the href parameter to page/place.html. NOTE: this was originally reported as cross-sit...

CVE-2014-1836
Published: 2015-07-01
Absolute path traversal vulnerability in htdocs/libraries/image-editor/image-edit.php in ImpressCMS before 1.3.6 allows remote attackers to delete arbitrary files via a full pathname in the image_path parameter in a cancel action.

CVE-2015-0848
Published: 2015-07-01
Heap-based buffer overflow in libwmf 0.2.8.4 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a crafted BMP image.

CVE-2015-1330
Published: 2015-07-01
unattended-upgrades before 0.86.1 does not properly authenticate packages when the (1) force-confold or (2) force-confnew dpkg options are enabled in the DPkg::Options::* apt configuration, which allows remote man-in-the-middle attackers to upload and execute arbitrary packages via unspecified vecto...

CVE-2015-1950
Published: 2015-07-01
IBM PowerVC Standard Edition 1.2.2.1 through 1.2.2.2 does not require authentication for access to the Python interpreter with nova credentials, which allows KVM guest OS users to discover certain PowerVC credentials and bypass intended access restrictions via unspecified Python code.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marc Spitler, co-author of the Verizon DBIR will share some of the lesser-known but most intriguing tidbits from the massive report