SOURCE: Panda Security

October 22, 2007 18:42 ET

Antivirus Warning: Hype or the Matrix Reloaded?

Panda Security's New Malware Radar Has Shown That a High Percentage of Systems That Thought They Were Protected Are, in Fact, Infected. Is the Current State of Affairs in Internet Security Hype or Harsh Reality?

GLENDALE, CA--(Marketwire - October 22, 2007) - So, which is it? Are the alarm bells being sounded by Internet security experts about the flood of malware overwhelming antivirus companies just a bunch of marketing hype? Or is the real truth closer to something like The Matrix, i.e., a seemingly calm world which is in reality just a pseudo-world which hides the real truth. Panda Security's new Malware Radar scanning technology is beginning to shed some light on what the actual current state-of-affairs really is in the world of Internet security.

Malware Radar was recently used on a government agency's network -- almost 655 pcs. This network had quite a bit of security measures in place -- including updated resident software, multiple firewalls, limited user privileges and did regular anti-spyware scans with a program that was specialized for this.

Despite this high level protection, dangerous, active malware was found to be residing on the system -- such as keyloggers, screenloggers, rootkits and downloader Trojans. They were also saturated with a high danger level adware that made their network vulnerable to additional malware downloads. Almost 100 workstations out of the 655 scanned were infected.

While the Malware Radar audit was being performed, the network was hit by a massive spam attack. The email offered a free Microsoft product download. About a quarter of their 6000 pcs received the spam. The resident antivirus software installed on the network workstations did not detect that there was a Trojan embedded in a link in the email. The Trojan embedded is one that is known to download additional malware, often a keylogger.

How can a major well-known antivirus software package miss this kind of malicious code?

It's in the architectural design of the application. Sometimes older signatures have to be purged to make room for newer signatures. Due to the increasingly vast volume of malicious code that's now in the wild many of the antivirus labs are overwhelmed and do not have the manpower to process and create vaccines for all the variations. As a result, there are times when malware never gets analyzed -- thus no vaccines are created to detect or disinfect them.

Current certification programs of antivirus software test the effectiveness of the software against a "wild list" of known viruses. The testing is rigorous. However, the certification only requires that the software is able to detect and clean a limited number of malware samples.

Malware Radar, using its global collective intelligence security model has collected millions of viral and other malware signatures.

So, is the Internet really being taken over by cyber-criminals and malware?

Clearly, there is an element on the Internet which feels that warnings about "Silent Epidemics" and high percentages of computers being infected with hidden malware is all just a bunch of "marketing hype."

The mainstream view, even in casual conversation amongst one's peers, is that we are all very well protected by existing antivirus and security programs, and that "all is quiet on the Western front" in terms of any battles with malware.

According to the experts, however, these warnings about what is really going on with Internet security is definitely not hype. In fact, if anything, the message is not getting out there fast enough, and as a result, anyone and everyone with a computer -- from individuals to the largest of corporations and even the government -- are suffering from not knowing the real situation. Research indicates that the cyber-world is a lot like The Matrix, and not hype.

Cyber-criminals and hackers have now developed super-sophisticated secret malware that can now slip past firewalls and antivirus programs and lurk undetected on computer systems and networks. With few exceptions, it doesn't matter how much you spend, what brand of antivirus software you use, what security program you have in place -- if your choice of protection doesn't have the technology to detect these little buggers, it cannot detect that they are there.

Panda Security's Malware Radar was specifically designed to "detect the undetectable." Panda Security (www.pandasecurity.com) receives more than 3000 unique suspicious samples every day. Using a proprietary computerized malware processing system, Panda Security is one of the few -- if not the only -- company in the industry that has the ability to keep up-to-date and current with potential malware attacks.

Malware Radar does not replace the current antivirus or security solution that a network has in place. Instead, it works as a perfect complement to existing security solutions, helping existing software detect and remove what it cannot currently see. Because it operates totally online with total administrative control, Malware Radar is able to do its job, issue full reports, and then disappear without a trace (with the option of removing detected malware if so desired).

What Malware Radar shows is that the current epidemic of silent malware invading "protected" networks isn't hype. It's a real situation. And, the best way to find out for yourself is to go to www.malwareradar.com and run a scan on your own system.

That way you'll know if you are really being protected or not, and whether all the fuss about hidden malware and ineffective antivirus programs is reality or an illusion.

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