Security tools taking too long to detect new malware, analysis warns

It can be weeks or months before conventional antivirus solutions can properly detect new malware signatures, security firm Damballa has warned after an analysis showed that 28 percent of malware took more than a week to be addressed through a signature update.

In preparing its recently released Q4 2014 State of Infections Report, Damballa analysed tens of thousands of infected files sent to it by enterprise customers between January and October 2014.

Antivirus products missed nearly 70 percent of the malware that had been embedded within the files for less than an hour, while two-thirds of infected files had been identified as malicious within 24 hours.

It took over six months before AV solutions could create signatures for 100 percent of the malicious files in the enterprise

The findings prompted new warnings about the need to look past signature-based security, Damballa CTO Brian Foster said in a statement. “What's clear from these figures is that we have to turn the table on infection 'dwell' time,” he explained.

“Much the same way that a flu vaccine hinges on making 'best-guess' decisions about the most prevalent virus strains, AV is only effective for some of the people some of the time. Viruses morph and mutate and new ones can appear in the time it takes to address the most commonly found malware.”

The updating cycle for security tools has left enterprise security teams struggling to keep up with the 17,000 alerts they received every week, the report warned: in Damballa's malware sample, the tested products would have missed 796 malicious files on day one alone.

Only 4 percent of all alerts are ever investigated, the survey found, with only 19 percent of alerts deemed to be reliable and 40 percent of infections ultimately going undetected. And less than a quarter of security professionals said that their organisation had a structured and automated approach to dealing with malware.

Warnings that conventional scanning is outdated are nothing new: Enex TestLab's eThreatz testing of leading security tools has seen a growing percentage of false negatives when tools were presented with samples of recent malware.

Read more: Developing a successful mobile authentication strategy

Recent eThreatz figures found that security tools were missing up to 100 percent of the malware they were presented with, and month-to-month variation confirmed that the cat-and-mouse game between security researchers and malware authors continues unabated.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.


Read more: iPhone 6 buyers must be wary of new security exposure: ThreatMetrix

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