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What You Need to Know When Looking for Anti-Malware Software

It takes a formidable software arsenal to effectively fight malware. Anti- programs, blockers, IDSes () and numerous other products are now routinely used to find and block various types of intrusive code, which in almost all cases arrives via the Internet.

With such a varied number of malware-fighting tools now available, finding the right products — and knowing how to use them — requires a substantial amount of time and research. Learning the answers to just a few simple questions, however, will help you get your anti-malware initiative into motion and on target.

What types of anti-malware tools do I need? Viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spam and spyware are the major malware categories, and you’ll need to find products that can detect and block all of these threats. Some products manage to combine several threat-fighting tools into a single package, which helps organizations sidestep management and software-conflict headaches.

How do I know if a product is compatible with other types of anti-malware programs? Since you’ll probably be juggling multiple anti-malware tools, you’ll want products that play well with others. Ask each vendor for a list of known program conflicts, but be prepared to encounter undocumented incompatibilities.

Do Windows’ built-in anti-malware tools provide enough protection? Windows XP and earlier versions certainly don’t offer sufficient safeguards. Windows Vista’s Defender anti-spyware technology and various other built-in security tools enhance the OS’s (operating system) safety but not to the level most businesses require.

Does it make sense to use a ‘whitelisting’ tool? Instead of detecting and blocking known ‘bad’ programs, whitelisting anti-malware technology works by stopping everything except preapproved applications. Many businesses feel that whitelisting provides a worry-free, ironclad approach to malware, while others believe that the approach is too restrictive. The choice is up to you.

Are ‘behavior-blocking’ tools effective? Anti-malware tools that incorporate behavior blocking monitor incoming programs for certain executions that are characteristic of malware code. When suspicious executions are detected, the program is blocked from running. Behavior blocking is a more sophisticated approach to malware detection than merely matching programs against the binary signatures of known rogue applications. The technique is most effective for combating brand-new zero-day malware programs.

Can ‘herd intelligence’ be a useful malware-fighting tool? This is an approach used by several malware vendors, notably Prevx, that leverages the collective data-gathering capabilities of multiple computers to form enhanced malware fighting capabilities. Each computer sends back information about programs (good, bad or unknown) to a central server for automated analysis.

Do I need to attack malware at the network or user level? Both. As long as the technology doesn’t adversely impact network throughput, device performance or user productivity, it’s impossible to have too much protection.

Do I need an access-control program? An access-control application can alert users to the run attempts of unknown programs, which can be an early indicator of a malware infection. This capability makes access control programs highly useful malware fighting tools.

Do I need anti-virus software? With all the new malware-fighting tools and techniques now appearing on the market, some observers have declared traditional anti-virus applications all but dead. Hyperbole aside, though, the technology is still relatively useful. Anti-virus programs are usually reasonably priced and effective, even if they’re only used as a second line of defense.

What are the most effective things I can do to keep malware from killing my organization’s IT infrastructure? Use a mixture of anti-malware tools to provide blanket security coverage. Install and maintain firewalls. Keep your current software patched and current. Educate your employees and other system users about safe computing practices.

Comodo Anti-Virus: Savior or Devil in Disguise?

Imagine this: A reputable company releases an eternally-free, “enterprise-class,” anti- engine that doesn’t waste CPU cycles, or otherwise molest your machine. Windows users rejoice that they can surf without fear of PTM (Porn-Transmitted ), and they line up to buy the company’s other, for-cash, products. A national holiday is named in honor of the “firm that saved the internet.”

That’s the dream that Comodo CEO Melih Abdulhayoglu is trying to fulfill with Comodo Anti- V1.0, a free anti-malware offering designed to slot-in with Comodo’s other gratis goods, like VerificationEngine, Comodo Personal Firewall and iVault.

Read more: Comodo Anti-Virus: Savior or Devil In Disguise?

Experts: Cyber-Criminals Still Running Amok

BOSTON—Gathered in the subterranean confines of a decommissioned vault in the basement of the Boston Stock Exchange, a panel of IT experts told the assembled crowd that short of locking all their proprietary information in such a contraption, there may be little hope for securing their data.

Brought together on May 12 for imaging giant Xerox’s 2006 Security Summit, the group of technology, intellectual property and law enforcement specialists painted a dreary picture of the current state of information security in enterprise companies, and even U.S. government agencies.

Read more: Experts: Cyber-Criminals Still Running Amok

Apple Patches 43 Flaws in OS, QuickTime

Apple Computer on Thursday patched more than 40 vulnerabilities in its Mac OS X operating system, associated applications, and the Cupertino, Calif. company’s Mac and Windows versions of the QuickTime multimedia player.

The Mac OS X upgrade, dubbed Update 2006-003, contains 31 fixes and ups the operating system to version 10.4.6. It was the third collective update of the OS since the first of the year.

According to information posted on the Apple support Web site, 2006-003 fixes one flaw in the Finder, two in both Flash Player and Mail, and one in Safari, along with 25 others. Although Apple doesn’t rate the severity of the vulnerabilities it patches — as does rival — 24 of the 31 could let a hacker execute his own code on a compromised Mac.

Read more: Apple Patches 43 Flaws In OS, QuickTime

Search Biz Makes $1.1 Billion Off Risky Links

Sites that pay to have their links pop up on search engine result pages are nearly three times more likely to harbor or , or hassle users with spam than URLs generated by the engine’s algorithms, research released Friday claimed.

And search engines are cashing in, reported McAfee’s SiteAdvisor service. By its estimate, the search industry made $1.1 billion from risky sponsored links last year.

The study, which evaluated Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Ask.com search engines using 1,300 different keyword searches, found that about 5 percent of the links served up in the first five pages can infect computers or plague users with spam. That figure, about one link per search result page, is more than double SiteAdvisor’s Web average of 2 pecent.

Read more: Search Biz Makes $1.1 Billion Off Risky Links

MS Researchers Tackle Automated Malware Classification

Researchers from Microsoft’s anti- engineering team are working on an automated way to sort through the thousands of families and variants attacking Windows computers.

The company unveiled its plans at the EICAR (European Institute for Computer Anti-Virus Research) conference in Hamburg, Germany, proposing the use of distance measure and machine learning technologies to come up with automatic classification of , Trojans, spyware, rootkits and other malicious software programs.

Read more: MS Researchers Tackle Automated Malware Classification

Microsoft to Provide Patches for Some Third-Party Apps

confirmed Wednesday that it will continue to third-party products that impact Windows.

Tuesday, Microsoft pushed out a patch to Windows XP, 98, and Millennium users for Flash Player, an Adobe-owned multimedia application that’s bundled with those operating systems. It was the first time that the Redmond, Wash. developer had issued an update for a non-Microsoft product using its Windows Update service.

A Microsoft spokesman explained the decision Tuesday afternoon by saying that “Flash Player is a third-party technology that is redistributed by Microsoft in certain versions of Windows, therefore some Microsoft customers may be at risk.

Read more: Microsoft To Provide Patches For Some Third-Party Apps

ICANN Turns Down .XXX, but Debate Continues

ICANN’s rejection of the controversial .xxx supported Top Level domain (STLD) moved the issue of a dedicated porn area on the Web back to ground zero: its opponents expressed relief Thursday that the demise of the proposed TLD will keep children from easy access to adult sites while advocates of the TDL domain complained that an opportunity to control porn site watching has been lost.

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) clamped a tight lid on the issue, forbidding its directors — who voted 9 to 5 to reject the domain proposal — from discussing the issue for 48 hours. ICANN said it will release details on the vote next week.

Read more: ICANN Turns Down .XXX, But Debate Continues

Rootkit-Spreading Spyware Shop Shuts Down

A spyware distributor noted for an extensive use of rootkits that make its software difficult to delete has closed shop, citing unspecified practices of its distribution partners as the reason.

ContextPlus, which spread spyware and , including software that hijacked searches and programs that leveled systems with egregious numbers of pop-up ads, has posted a message on its Web site saying it’s out of the business.

Read more: Rootkit-spreading Spyware Shop Shuts Down

Spyware, Rootkit Maker Stops Distribution

LOS ANGELES—A co-owner of a Hollywood video game store that caters to celebrity clients on Wednesday pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to violate federal copyright laws by selling Xbox video game consoles modified to play pirated games.

Jason Jones, a co-owner of ACME Game Store, entered a guilty plea in federal court in Los Angeles. His business partner, Jonathan Bryant, has signed a plea agreement and is scheduled to plead guilty to a conspiracy count on Monday, prosecutors said.

Read more: Spyware, Rootkit Maker Stops Distribution

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