Malware still running rings around security tools, eThreatz testing finds

Security tools from eight different vendors are struggling to detect modern malware threats, according to eThreatz testing by Enex Testlab that has shown big-name security tools are failing to detect up to 65 per cent of malware presented to them.

Every month, Enex TestLab runs eight major malware-detection packages against a random sample of 33 different malware threats, then measures their rates of false negatives, false positives, and successful malware detection.

According to results of the December 2013 tests, Sophos was the least capable security vendor, detecting just 35 per cent of 33 different malware threats with which it was presented.

Trend Micro was the best, detecting 86 per cent of malware, while Microsoft (which detected just 47 per cent of malware) and McAfee (40 per cent) were less effective. Panda (80 per cent), eSet (77 per cent), Symantec (72 percent) and Kaspersky (64 per cent) rounded out the top five.

eThreatz rankings of the most popular security platforms have changed places quickly in recent months as different vendors responded to new malware threats at different speeds and in different ways.

In October, for example, eSet (99 percent), Kaspersky (96 per cent) and Symantec (84 per cent) were standouts while Microsoft's security tools spotted just 26 per cent of malicious code. In that month, Panda – the current number-two vendor – detected just 56 per cent of malware, making it the second-worst supplier in the previous testing.

Current testing champion Trend Micro was third-worst in October, detecting just 57 per cent of malware. Sophos found 63 per cent of malware in that month, while McAfee detected 63 per cent.

In August, by contrast, Panda was tied with Symantec as third most-effective security vendor, with each detecting 89 per cent of presented malware.

Sophos was in last place that month, with just 41 per cent, and Microsoft barely did better with 45 per cent while eSet (100 per cent) and Kaspersky (99 per cent) topped the charts.

The rapidly changing figures reflect the ever-changing nature of the malware threat, which has become even more intense in the leadup to the busy Christmas shopping season and its attendant surge in mobile shopping.

A range of online services, for example, have been resetting user accounts after 2 million login credentials – apparently stolen by a botnet from victims' computers – were found on a Dutch server. The 'Neverquest' Trojan is targeting online banking users, while a newly discovered worm targets Linux PCs and embedded devices based on the operating system.

Researchers have even created a malware proof-of-concept called 'badBIOS' that communicates using sound waves rather than a conventional network – suggesting that the pace of innovation in cyber-attacks shows no sign of slowing. Future eThreatz testing will see whether vendors can keep up – or, as the case may be based on the latest figures, catch up.

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More about Enex TestLabKasperskyLinuxMcAfee AustraliaMicrosoftPandaSophosSymantecTrend Micro Australia

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