Today’s PC Security is Just Whac-a-Mole


John Naughton of The Observer posted a great article that outlined the true limitations of today’s PC security – that have been exposed by the recent Flame virus…

PC Security protection options available today are only reactive.

The PC security business does offer a degree of protection from the evils of malware, but suffers from one structural problem: its products are, by definition, reactive. When a particular piece of malicious software appears, it is analysed in order to determine its distinctive “signature”, which will enable it to be detected when it arrives at your machine. Then a remedy is devised and an update or “patch” issued – which is why your PC is forever inviting you to download updates – and why IT support people always look pityingly at you when you explain sheepishly that you failed to perform the aforementioned downloads.

So the security companies are always playing catch-up, profitably slamming stable doors after the horses have bolted. Until recently, the industry has tactfully refrained from emphasising this point, and most of its customers have been too clueless to notice.–John Naughton, The Observer

Naughton sees an industry on the brink of a radical transformation – born out of necessity. The reacitve, “whack-a-mole” approach to protecting computers – will no longer work.

What we can be sure of, though, is that we’ve crossed the threshold into a different world. The old signature-based, reactive approach of the anti-virus industry is not up to this new game. We’re going to need radically different approaches if our societies – and our industries – are going to be able to protect themselves from the imitators and successors of Flame. And for that we’re going to need new metaphors and models. The current anti-virus approach is a bit like playing whack-a-mole, and it’s run its course.–John Naughton, The Observer


PC Survival Time–a chart that tracks how long it would take an unprotected Windows computer to the internet, to become infected by malicious software?

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