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10/26/2017
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Doubling Up on AV Fails to Protect 40% of Users from Malware Attacks

Traditional signature-based antivirus solutions are falling short on protecting endpoints, even when there are two or more deployed.

Nearly 40% of users who had multiple, traditional antivirus solutions loaded on their endpoints faced a malware attack during the first half of the year, a Malwarebytes report revealed today.

The Mapping AV Detection Failures report, which scanned nearly 10 million endpoints, found a number of malware attacks occurred despite having two or more traditional, or signature-based, antivirus solutions installed.

"The takeaway for enterprises is [that] the most basic threats have not been caught by the AV they have deployed," says Marcin Kleczynski, Malwarebytes CEO. "Yet, they continue to use these and grow desensitized."

He adds CISOs and other IT security leaders may be adopting a common assumption that no one ever gets fired for using antivirus software from the industry leaders, especially when analysts rate them high on the effectiveness scale in comparative reports. Antivirus pen tests and how the software reacts in a live attack are likely to lead to vastly different results, Kleczynski notes.

Malware that Sneaks Past AV

Ransomware, botnets, and Trojans are able to slip past traditional antivirus solutions to varying degrees, the report says.

Ransomware's Hidden Tear compromised nearly 42% of machines with traditional AV, while Cerber hit 18%, the reports states. Cerber is also proving it can outsmart even next-gen solutions after researchers found it can evade machine-learning detection systems.

As for botnets, IRCBot averted AV detection in 62% of users' computers that were compromised, while Kelihos evaded AV detection in 27% of the machines.

"Often, botnets do not come with an infection signature that would be noticed," Kleczynski says. "Kelihos comes and go and it's one of the most common threats this year. It's very difficult to detect it as malware that is signature based."

Kelihos and the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) botnets are indeed hardy. The resiliency of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) botnets was noted even back in 2015 and Kelihos even further in 2012.

Fileless malware, meanwhile, continues to avert AV detection and infected 17.8% of the endpoints scanned in the first half of the year, while DNSChanger was just as sneaky in 17.5% of the cases, the report states.

"Fileless attacks are on the rise," Kleczynski says. "In the old days, when you build AV you scan every file written to the disk and you find the signature and delete the malware. But now, you're not writing the threat onto the disk. It's in the browser, or Excel document or in memory."

The four top traditional AV companies failed to protect 39.1% of users against all malware attacks, according to the report. Without revealing the four vendors, Kleczynski says some are taking steps to adopt new next-gen AV techniques, such as behavioral based AV. However, he notes that the transition will take time.

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Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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