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Resources | Simple 'magic bullets' for the antivirus industry

Antivirus software should detect 'double extension' exploits
Listen to this advice (MP3) Problem: we knew about the threat of ".???.???" exploits in 1996. Yet today's popular antivirus software cannot recognize evil emails with (for example) a .TXT.VBS attachment.

Repercussion: ILoveYou and Kournikova swamped the Internet.

Solution: tell your antivirus vendor to add a trivial email filter rule which detects 'double extension' exploits.

Antivirus software should detect a generic Word macro virus
Listen to this advice (MP3) Problem: generic Word macro viruses came out in 1995. Yet today's popular antivirus software can't even recognize a trivial variation of a macro virus. They can't even stop a macro virus which blatantly mentions NORMAL.DOT in its source code.

Repercussion: Melissa swamped the Internet.

Solution: tell your antivirus vendor to detect the four common elements which describe a generic Word macro virus: (1) a Word template file with (2) an auto-executing macro which (3) writes to NORMAL.DOT and optionally (4) sets an obscure option in Word which only virus writers seem to care about.

Antivirus software should change PC security settings for you
Listen to this advice (MP3) Problem: virus experts tell everyone to make well-known changes to PC security settings. Sadly, today's popular antivirus software won't make these changes for you. You must do it all yourself.

Repercussion: Melissa, ILoveYou, Kournikova, and other viruses swamped the Internet.

Solution: tell your antivirus vendor to give you a choice. You push a button, and their software makes all the security changes they recommend.

Antivirus software should keep the important data it generates
Listen to this advice (MP3) Problem: antivirus software overwrites its own virus detection data by default. Webmasters regularly archive site usage data, but even virus experts don't care enough to archive virus proliferation data. Powerful software quickly sprang up to interpret all the website data ... yet antivirus firms still don't hawk virus metric utilities after a whopping 15 years.

Repercussion: you cannot gauge virus trends without supporting data.

Solution: tell your antivirus vendor to keep virus detection data on your computer by default -- and tell them to give you a metric utility which can analyze patterns in virus proliferation.

Virus experts should agree on a virus naming convention
Listen to this advice (MP3) Problem: antivirus firms haven't come up with a virus naming convention after more than a decade of effort. Each vendor gives a virus whatever name they please.

Repercussion: you cannot easily look up information about a virus which has infected your computer. Even the experts themselves get confused from time to time when talking to other experts.

Solution: tell your antivirus vendor to agree on an industry-wide naming convention.


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