Internet users caught in the cross-fire

JOHANNESBURG (03/04/2004) - Internet and e-mail users the world over are under attack. A dozen new viruses have been released into the Internet over the last three days, and virus vendors simply cannot keep up with supplying patches and updates fast enough.

According to Justin Stanford, from South Africa (SA) Information antivirus software NOD32 manufacturer 4D Digital Security (Pty) Ltd., just Thursday five new viruses have been released into the wild, and, because of this frenetic pace, only relying on patches simply is not enough anymore.

"This week has proven that relying on patches just does not cut it," says Stanford. "We have never seen anything like this -- just as anti-virus vendors create a new patch, another variant of that same virus is released, leaving the patch obsolete and another has to be created. In the space of a few days numerous variants of the Bagle, NetSky and MyDoom families have been released, some within minutes of each other, which has made the creation and release of time-outs and effective update patches difficult at best."

According to Stanford the time it takes to identify a new virus, analyze it and create a patch, is what allows viruses to spread so rapidly. "Instead of being reliant on updates, PC users should rather employ what is known as heuristics to identify and terminate viruses, even before updates have been developed."

"Effective heuristics acts as an artificial intelligence which actively looks for the actions used by viruses and not normal PC programs, and nips it in the bud, preventing the virus from infecting the computer or spreading to other computers," Stanford explains. "It does this without requiring any downloaded updates from the anti-virus vendor's response center."

"The Advanced Heuristics engine used by the NOD32 anti-virus package, has successfully identified and terminated all variants of the NetSky virus, from .A through to .F, as well as Bagle.A, Bagle.B, Bagle.J, Bagle.H, Bagle.I, Bagle.K and MyDoom.F and MyDoom.G, which have been clogging mail servers the world over, even before any updates or patches have been developed. If we would like to continue using e-mail and the Internet the way in which we have been, there is no doubt that a common move towards the use of advanced heuristics is the answer," Stanford concludes.

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