Most Antivirus Not Secure, Exploitable: Report
For many users, installing antivirus software is one of the first things to do after purchasing a new computer. But one security researcher suggests that today's antivirus programs are anything but effective; in fact, he claims many antivirus programs are filled with security flaws.
Fourteen Antivirus Products Vulnerable, Researcher Claims
Joxean Koret is a researcher at COSEINC, a Singapore-based security firm. Over the past year, he's carefully analyzed a wide range of antivirus products in search of security vulnerabilities.
Earlier this month Koret presented his findings at the SyScan 360 security conference held in Beijing, China. In that presentation, Koret said that he found dozens of serious security flaws that could be exploited both remotely and locally. In total, Koret says that 14 of the antivirus products he examined were riddled with these vulnerabilities.
Koret says that because antivirus engines are given the highest system privileges on a system, exploiting these programs can give third parties (such as hackers) full system access to do as they please. In essence, hacking an antivirus program can give an attacker access to the most sensitive parts of a system.
Koret also noted that too many antivirus vendors fail to digitally sign their virus definitions and updates through encrypted web (HTTPS) connections. This approach can allow a hacker to execute a man-in-the-middle attack, which involves injecting malicious files during an update.
Koret's list of vulnerable antivirus products is a long one. In his SyScan presentation, he pointed to serious security flaws in products from Panda Security, Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab, ESET, Sophos, Comodo, AVG, IKARUS Security Software, Doctor Web, MicroWorld Technologies, BKAV, Fortinet and ClamAV, Avira, Avast, F-Prot and F-Secure. (Source: tomsguide.com)
Koret admitted that he had not told all of these firms about his findings because he feels these firms should be regularly auditing their own programs to find vulnerabilities.
IT Admins Should Evaluate Antivirus Software Before Deploying
Carsten Eiram, chief research officer at security firm Risk Based Security, says he examined Koret's presentation and felt the COSEINC researcher's findings made sense. However, Eiram said people shouldn't assume that antivirus programs are useless; instead, he feels Koret's findings should prompt IT administrators to more carefully evaluate antivirus products before deploying them.
"I won't go to the extent to say that AV software is pointless," Eiram said. "However, system administrators should carefully select which security products they buy as well as which features are enabled -- especially when it comes to content inspection." (Source: pcworld.com)
You can view Koret's presentation (in PDF form) by clicking here.
What's Your Opinion?
Do you feel confident in the antivirus product installed on your system? Do you have an antivirus subscription or do you use a free service, like Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast!, or Grisoft AVG? Has your system ever been infected with malware, even though you had antivirus software installed?
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