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07 July 2006, 09:51

McAfee crosses 200,000 signature threshold

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Usually, crossing the 200,000 threshold is a cause for celebration. But few at McAfee are likely to rejoice in the 200,000th virus signature in their database. In update DAT-4800, the signature file contains patterns to recognize 200,104 contaminants. According to the experts at McAfee's Avert Labs, the booming development of malware means that the 400,000 signature threshold may even be crossed in 2008. Already, there are more virus signatures than files on a typical PC.

Slowly but surely, slow PCs are starting to have trouble performing virus checks. After all, every file has to be compared to 200,000 patterns. Jimmy Kuo, virus researcher at Avert Labs, believes that companies will probably simply switch off virus updates in some cases if their systems are too old. And yet, signatures remain necessary even if new techniques are used, such as behaviour-based antivirus protection. In particular, the old technology is still needed to clean a system that is already infected.

Good "family detection" is needed to provide protection from future risks. The Avert Labs blog states that a lot of the contaminants currently in circulation are only slightly modified versions of a main one and that programmers of viruses and worms place great store on reusability. The specialists at McAfee are also concerned about cell phone viruses. Up to now, they have not been a major problem, but as soon as telephones start being used for money transfers, the experts write, we can expect the number of contaminants to skyrocket.

Also see:

  • 200,000!, Jimmy Kuo's blog entry at Avert Labs


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