Antivirus software

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Antivirus or anti-virus software is used to prevent, detect, and remove malware, including but not limited to computer viruses, computer worm, trojan horses, spyware and adware. This page talks about the software used for the prevention and removal of such threats, rather than computer security implemented by software methods. A variety of strategies are typically employed. Signature-based detection involves searching for known patterns of data within executable code. However, it is possible for a computer to be infected with new malware for which no signature is yet known. To counter such so-called zero-day threats, heuristics can be used. One type of heuristic approach, generic signatures, can identify new viruses or variants of existing viruses by looking for known malicious code, or slight variations of such code, in files. Some antivirus software can also predict what a file will do by running it in a sandbox and analyzing what it does to see if it performs any malicious actions. No matter how useful antivirus software can be, it can sometimes have drawbacks. Antivirus software can impair a computer's performance. Inexperienced users may also have trouble understanding the prompts and decisions that antivirus software presents them with. An incorrect decision may lead to a security breach. If the antivirus software employs heuristic detection, success depends on achieving the right balance between false positives and false negatives. False positives can be as destructive as false negatives.[1] Finally, antivirus software generally runs at the highly trusted kernel level of the operating system, creating a potential avenue of attack.[2]
Contents

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1 History 2 Identification methods

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2.1 Signature-based detection 2.2 Heuristics 2.3 Rootkit detection

3 Issues of concern

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3.1 Unexpected renewal costs 3.2 Rogue security applications

8 Damaged files 3.3 Online scanning 4.2 Network firewall 4.1 Cloud antivirus 4.6 New viruses 3.3 Problems caused by false positives 3.4 System and interoperability related issues 3.o o o o o o o  3.9 Firmware issues 4 Other methods o o o o      4.[3] That changed when more and more programmers became acquainted with virus programming and created viruses that manipulated or even destroyed data on infected computers.5 Effectiveness 3.4 Specialist tools 5 Popularity 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links [edit]History An example of free antivirus software:ClamTk 3.7 Rootkits 3. . See also: Timeline of notable computer viruses and worms Most of the computer viruses written in the early and mid 1980s were limited to self-reproduction and had no specific damage routine built into the code.08.

There are competing claims for the innovator of the first antivirus product. but was updated relatively infrequently.[4][5] There were also two antivirus applications for the Atari ST platform developed in 1987. Virus writers could use the macros to write viruses embedded within documents. Fred Cohen. However. as internet usage became common.[13] As always-on broadband connections became the norm. Antivirus software came into use. viruses were typically spread by infected floppy disks. This meant that computers could now also be at risk from infection by opening documents with hidden attached macros. Before internet connectivity was widespread. Even then. During this time. [edit]Identification methods . rather than just executables. it became essential to update virus checkers more and more frequently. [12]  Later email programs. such as Microsoft Word. were vulnerable to viruses embedded in the email body itself. A user's computer could be infected by just opening or previewing a message. viruses began to spread online. Possibly the first publicly documented removal of a computer virus in the wild was performed byBernd Fix in 1987. in particular Microsoft's Outlook Express and Outlook. a new zero-day virus could become widespread before antivirus companies released an update to protect against it. Also in 1988 a mailing list named VIRUS-L[10] was started on the BITNET/EARN network where new viruses and the possibilities of detecting and eliminating viruses were discussed. presented a risk. Some members of this mailing list like John McAfee or Eugene Kaspersky later founded software companies that developed and sold commercial antivirus software. who published one of the first academic papers on computer viruses in 1984.[11] Over the years it has become necessary for antivirus software to check an increasing variety of files. for several reasons:  Powerful macros used in word processor applications. virus checkers essentially had to check executable files and the boot sectors of floppy disks and hard disks. The first one was G Data [6] and second was UVK 2000[7].[8] began to develop strategies for antivirus software in 1988[9] that were picked up and continued by later antivirus software developers. and more and more viruses were released.

the signature-based detection approach requires frequent updates of the virus signature dictionary. As new viruses are being created each day. not just as a whole. Because viruses can embed themselves in existing files. like malicious activity detection. allowing the virus to be analyzed and the signature added to the dictionary.[15] [edit]Signature-based detection Traditionally. Because of this. [14] Heuristic-based detection. To identify viruses and other malware. File emulation is another heuristic approach. Depending on the actions logged. so as to not match virus signatures in the dictionary. unknown viruses. File emulation involves executing a program in a virtual environment and logging what actions the program performs. To assist the antivirus software companies. signature-based approaches are not effective against new. Signature based detection is the most common method.[16] [edit]Heuristics . more recently. can be used to identify unknown viruses. which encrypt parts of themselves or otherwise modify themselves as a method of disguise. the antivirus software can determine if the program is malicious or not and then carry out the appropriate disinfection actions. This can be very effective. antivirus software compares the contents of a file to a dictionary of virus signatures. but also in pieces. "polymorphic" and. the software may allow the user to upload new viruses or variants to the company. the entire file is searched. virus authors have tried to stay a step ahead of such software by writing "oligomorphic". "metamorphic" viruses.a proprietary freeware antimalware product There are several methods which antivirus software can use to identify malware. antivirus software heavily relied upon signatures to identify malware.46 .Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware version 1.[14] Although the signature-based approach can effectively contain virus outbreaks. but cannot defend against malware unless samples have already been obtained and signatures created.

in some cases requiring a complete re-installation of the operating system. Rootkits are also difficult to remove.B. it can be quicker to detect a virus family through a generic signature or through an inexact match to an existing signature.[21][22] [edit]Issues of concern renewal costs [edit]Unexpected Some commercial antivirus software end-user license agreements include a clause that the subscription will be automatically renewed.Vundo andTrojan. Rootkits can change how theoperating system functions and in some cases can tamper with the anti-virus program and render it ineffective.Some more sophisticated antivirus software uses heuristic analysis to identify new malware or variants of known malware. These signatures often contain non-contiguous code. Many viruses start as a single infection and through either mutation or refinements by other attackers. such as WinFixer and MS Antivirus.[18][19] While it may be advantageous to identify a specific virus. Generic detection refers to the detection and removal of multiple threats using a single virus definition.[24] Norton Antivirus also renews subscriptions automatically by default.[20] A detection that uses this method is said to be "heuristic detection. Virus researchers find common areas that all viruses in a family share uniquely and can thus create a single generic signature." [edit]Rootkit detection Main article: Rootkit Anti-virus software can also scan for rootkits. Symantec classifies members of the Vundo family into two distinct categories. using wildcard characters where differences lie. McAfee requires users to unsubscribe at least 60 days before the expiration of the present subscription[23] while BitDefender sends notifications to unsubscribe 30 days before the renewal. meaningless code. at the renewal time without explicit approval. and the purchaser's credit card automatically billed. called variants. For example.[17] For example.Vundo.[26] .[25] [edit]Rogue security applications Main article: Rogue security software Some apparent antivirus programs are actually malware masquerading as legitimate software. These wildcards allow the scanner to detect viruses even if they are padded with extra. can grow into dozens of slightly different strains. Trojan. depending on the antivirus vendor's classification. the Vundo trojan has several family members. a rootkit is a type of malware that is designed to gain administrative-level control over a computer system without being detected.

For example. fixing the damage to Microsoft Windows incurs technical support costs and businesses can be forced to close whilst remedial action is undertaken. we can only condemn this product as too flawed to use. a normal Windows binary. leaving thousands of PCs unable to boot. McAfee VirusScan detected svchost. It is sometimes necessary to temporarily disable virus protection when installing major updates such as Windows Service Packs or updating graphics card drivers. a false positive in an essential file can render the operating system or some applications unusable. the TrueCrypt troubleshooting page reports that anti-virus programs can conflict with TrueCrypt and cause it to malfunction. using a concept called multiscanning.[38] Active antivirus protection may partially or completely prevent the installation of a major update. [35] However.[39] Support issues also exist around antivirus application interoperability with common solutions like SSL VPN remote access and network access control products.[33][34] [edit]System and interoperability related issues Running multiple antivirus programs concurrently can degrade performance and create conflicts.[28] Also in May 2007. A minority of software programs are not compatible with anti-virus software. causing a reboot loop and loss of all network access. less buggy anti-virus packages.[32] When Microsoft Windows becomes damaged by faulty anti-virus products. if an antivirus program is configured to immediately delete or quarantine infected files. [30][31] In December 2010. the executable file required by Pegasus Mail was falsely detected by Norton AntiVirus as being a Trojan and it was automatically removed.[29] In response to this Pegasus Mail stated: “ On the basis that Norton/Symantec has done this for every one of the last three releases of Pegasus Mail.[40] These technology solutions often have policy assessment applications which require that an up to date antivirus is installed and running. due to an endless boot loop created.[29] ” In April 2010. If the antivirus . it can cause serious problems. several companies (including G Data[36] and Microsoft[37]) have created applications which can run multiple engines concurrently. When this happens. rendering it unable to boot. Norton anti-virus had falsely identified three releases of Pegasus Mail as malware. a faulty update on the AVG anti-virus suite damaged 64-bit versions of Windows 7. preventing Pegasus Mail from running. and recommend in the strongest terms that our users cease using it in favour of alternative.[27] In May 2007. as a virus on machines running Windows XP with Service Pack 3.exe. and would delete the Pegasus Mail installer file when that happened. a faulty virus signature issued by Symantec mistakenly removed essential operating system files.[edit]Problems caused by false positives A "false positive" is when antivirus software identifies a non-malicious file as a virus. For example.

I've seen people firsthand getting infected.[44] [edit]New viruses Anti-virus programs are not always effective against new viruses. particularly ransomware. ICSA Labs. even those that use non-signature-based methods that should detect new viruses. [43] Although methodologies may differ. exhibited destructive behavior orpop-ups. The potential success of this involves bypassing the CPU in order to make it much harder for security researchers to analyse the inner workings of such malware. At that time. a security analyst with ParetoLogic.[41] The problem is magnified by the changing intent of virus authors. [edit]Effectiveness Studies in December 2007 showed that the effectiveness of antivirus software had decreased in the previous year. written by amateurs. Some years ago it was obvious when a virus infection was present. while the lowest provided only 81. The reason for this is that the virus designers test their new viruses on the major anti-virus applications to make sure that they are not detected before releasing them into the wild. which managed a detection rate of 68 percent. some notable independent quality testing agencies include AVComparatives. When we see something like that usually we advise to reinstall the operating system or reinstall backups. The viruses of the day. Modern viruses are often written by professionals.6% detection. whether because the antivirus application has been updated or because it is not part of the policy assessment library. having all the pop-ups and yet they have antivirus software running and it's not detecting anything. [46] ” A proof of concept virus has used the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to avoid detection from anti-virus software. identifying benign files as malware. the user will be unable to connect. and you're never really sure if it's really gone. which means they basically randomize the file they send you and it gets by well-known antivirus products very easily. VB100 and other members of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization. All virus scanners produce false positive results as well. The best ones provided as high as 99. The computer magazine c't found that detection rates for these threats had dropped from 40-50% in 2006 to 20-30% in 2007. It actually can be pretty hard to get rid of.[47] [edit]Rootkits . the only exception was the NOD32 antivirus. West Coast Labs. explained:[46] “ It's something that they miss a lot of the time because this type of [ransomware virus] comes from sites that use a polymorphism. particularly against unknown or zero day attacks. as well. [45] Some new viruses. use polymorphic code to avoid detection by virus scanners. Jerome Segura.8% in tests conducted in February 2010.application is not recognized by the policy assessment.[42] Independent testing on all the major virus scanners consistently shows that none provide 100% virus detection. financed by criminal organizations.

[49] [edit]Firmware issues Active anti-virus software can interfere with a firmware update process. [edit]Cloud antivirus Cloud antivirus is a technology that uses lightweight agent software on the protected computer.Detecting rootkits is a major challenge for anti-virus programs.95.[51] This is a major concern. while offloading the majority of data analysis to the provider's infrastructure. but this does not always restore the file to its undamaged state. including cloud-based antivirus. Rootkits can modify the inner workings of the operating system[48] and tamper with antivirus programs.[52] Anti-virus software is not effective at protecting firmware and the motherboard BIOS from infection. Rootkits have full administrative access to the computer and are invisible to users and hidden from the list of running processes in the task manager.[54] One approach to implementing cloud antivirus involves scanning suspicious files using multiple antivirus engines. In such circumstances. damaged files can only be restored from existing backups. as an infected BIOS could require the actual BIOS chip to be replaced to ensure the malicious code is completely removed.[53] [edit]Other methods A command-line virus scanner. running a virus signature definition update. This approach was proposed by an early implementation of the cloud antivirus concept called CloudAV. installed software that is damaged requires re-installation.[50] Any writeable firmware in the computer can be infected by malicious code.2.[21] [edit]Damaged files Files which have been damaged by computer viruses are normally damaged beyond recovery. CloudAV was designed to send programs or documents to a network cloud where multiple antivirus and behavioral detection programs are used simultaneously in order to improve detection rates. firewalls and on-line scanners. Anti-virus software removes the virus code from the file during disinfection. Clam AV 0. Other methods are also used. Parallel . scanning a file and identifying a Trojan Installed antivirus software running on an individual computer is only one method of guarding against viruses.

[57] and rkhunter for the detection of rootkits. critical areas only. A bootable . they are not antivirus systems and make no attempt to identify or remove anything.[60] A rescue disk that is bootable. [edit]Online scanning Some antivirus vendors maintain websites with free online scanning capability of the entire computer. such as a CD or USB storage device. can be used to run antivirus software outside of the installed operating system. Avira's AntiVir Removal Tool. However. One of the first things that malicious software does in an attack is disable any existing antivirus software and sometimes the only way to know of an attack is by turning to an online resource that isn't already installed on the infected computer.[58] PCTools Threat Removal Tool. CloudAV can also perform "retrospective detection. Periodic online scanning is a good idea for those that run antivirus applications on their computers because those applications are frequently slow to catch threats. CloudAV is a solution for effective virus scanning on devices that lack the computing power to perform the scans themselves. A firewall is designed to deal with broader system threats that come from network connections into the system and is not an alternative to a virus protection system. in order to remove infections while they are dormant. and limit the activity of any malicious software which is present by blocking incoming or outgoing requests on certain TCP/IP ports.[56] [edit]Specialist tools Using rkhunter to scan for rootkits on anUbuntu Linux computer. Examples include Trend Micro's Rootkit Buster. local disks. folders or files.scanning of files using potentially incompatible antivirus scanners is achieved by spawning a virtual machine per detection engine and therefore eliminating any possible issues.[55] [edit]Network firewall Network firewalls prevent unknown programs and processes from accessing the system. Finally. Virus removal tools are available to help remove stubborn infections or certain types of infection. They may protect against infection from outside the protected computer or network.[59] and AVG's Anti-Virus Free 2011." whereby the cloud detection engine rescans all files in its file access history when a new threat is identified thus improving new threat detection speed.

[61] and AVG Rescue CD. the installed operating system is no longer bootable or has malware that is resisting all attempts to be removed by the installed antivirus software. whereas more than 80% of home users had some kind of antivirus installed. that is bootable on newer computers.[62] [edit]Popularity A survey by Symantec in 2009 found that a third of small to medium sized business did not use antivirus protection at that time. Examples of some of these bootable disks include the Avira AntiVir Rescue System.[58] PCToolsAlternate Operating System Scanner.[62] The AVG Rescue CD software can also be installed onto a USB storage device.antivirus disk can be useful when. for example. the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research Linux malware List of antivirus software List of computer viruses List of trojan horses Quarantine technology Sandbox (computer security) Timeline of notable computer viruses and worms Virus hoax . [63] [edit]See also Computer security portal          EICAR.

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