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In their latest Saskatoon IT expert tip, Gareth shares why antivirus is useless against modern attacks. Antivirus software identifies malware and detects threats. However, now that attacks have evolved, today’s threats are able to get around Antivirus mechanisms.
Antivirus Software (AV): Signature-Based Approach
Antivirus software identifies malware based on signatures. These signatures are like fingerprints, and each malware has a unique pattern. Antivirus software contains the memory of each signature that it uses to identify malicious threats. Each time antivirus software recognizes new malware, antivirus companies add the signature to their blacklist. These blacklists contain the signatures that are denied access to your system. Thus, Antivirus protects your system by blocking these specific signatures from attacking.
Why Antivirus Software is Not Sufficient
This signature-based approach worked for detecting older malware that had already been identified and labelled. In the past, provided the malware was known, and your antivirus company’s signatures were up to date, you were protected. Unfortunately, threats have evolved and malware is not the only concern. Specifically, today’s threats include targeted attacks using unknown malware variants, file-less malware attacks, and exploits that leverage unknown software vulnerabilities. As a result, these persistent threats and ransomware attacks can all bypass antivirus detection.
Another concern is that malware development has shifted. Attackers now test their malware against antivirus programs to ensure it can bypass them. In addition, attackers invent new malware at a faster rate. Thus, antivirus companies are unable to keep up with blacklisting all the signatures. Also, new types of malware can now go undetected by signature. New malware is hard to detect because it is polymorphic, meaning it changes as it spreads. Overall, as threats grow, Antivirus is no longer sufficient.
Why Keep Using Antivirus If It Is Useless Against Modern Attacks?
The bottom line is antivirus software is necessary for legal and compliance purposes. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires up-to-date antivirus software for organizations that store, process, or send credit card information. Not to mention, a lack of antivirus protection makes companies appear irresponsible. This jeopardizes a company’s ability to collect insurance if a breach or lawsuit should occur.
Though antivirus cannot detect modern threats, it does provide a certain degree of protection. As long as your current antivirus program can identify and block even half of the malware signatures, it is worth using. However, it must not be the only line of defence.
Overall, as threats grow more advanced, an antivirus alone is not enough to protect your company. A more comprehensive IT strategy is a necessity. Contact the IT experts at Burnt Orange IT Solutions. We can help your business mitigate risk, and be prepared for any IT-related emergency.