Internet security expert challenges anti-virus notions

A plaster cannot cure a virus.

This is the word according to international information security expert, Maroa Mazola, who delivered a controversial presentation at Futurex on Wednesday afternoon.

Simply put, he threw down the gauntlet to anti-virus software companies, challenging the use of anti-virus definition updates to protect valuable data.

According to Mozola, international vice-president of NOD32, the reactive approach that most anti-virus programs employ to protect information, is not enough to win the battle against the ever-increasing number of viruses.

He notes that last year alone the total economic damage from all types of digital risk manifestation was estimated to be between a staggering US$185 billion and $226 billion worldwide.

"A completely new approach has to be taken, where anti-virus programs do not rely on updates in order to successfully protect computers. Recent viruses have seen new variants created faster than it is possible to create updates, which means that your computer is vulnerable in between updates," says Mozola.

"The proactive approach to eradicate viruses means that new technologies, such as advanced heuristic analysis and sandboxing, are used to detect new and unknown viruses and worms. These new technologies function in a similar way to artificial intelligence, which actually looks for actions that are used by viruses, and then stops the virus in its tracks. This approach ensures that your computer is protected at all times, even if you do not have the latest updates installed," he adds.

According to Mozola, PriceWaterhouseCoopers recently conducted a survey which proved that large businesses are suffering most of all sectors under the burden of ever increasing amounts of Internet and e-mail viruses -- this despite the fact that 99 percent of all large businesses have some form of anti-virus protection in place.

"The auditor survey makes it crystal clear that companies and individuals simply cannot reply on 'old-fashioned' AV protection any more, and need to rely on products that use advanced heuristics to identify and stop viruses," he concludes.

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