For IT, Its All About Defense

Opinion: Anti-virus programs are outmoded, keeping IT on the defensive.

The bad guys are still winning. thats not a surprise to anyone who has been hit by a worm, a virus or a phishing attack. What is surprising about the state of Internet security is how badly they (professional criminals) are winning. Its not like the good guys (security vendors, service providers, IT managers) arent trying. They are leaving everything out on the field. Still, its not enough.

eWEEK Senior Writer Paul F. Roberts story this week comes right to the point: Current anti-virus models are outmoded. Anti-virus programs do what they are supposed to do—they block threats. Yet scanning for known, existing threats only ensures that those not on the signature list will get through. And its hard to keep current when thousands of new threats are appearing each month, according to virus researchers.

In football, a "prevent" defense works to stop the quick score but inevitably gives up a lot of yards along the way. Make those yards IT dollars, hours of worker productivity lost or consumer identities, and its time to change the strategy. Through new heuristics, behavior-based detection methods and proactive vulnerability analysis, vendors are hoping to stem the onslaught somewhat. Still, its hard to win when you are always playing defense.

Failure is not an option when it comes to enterprise applications and data, and EMC and Hewlett-Packard are stepping up their continuous data protection efforts. EMC will unveil its plans at the Storage Networking World show next week in Orlando, Fla., Senior Writer Brian Fonseca reports. Getting the jump this week is HP, which has a deal with Mendocino Software to resell its recovery management product. HP CEO Mark Hurd will address customers at the companys Technology Forum, which was scheduled for New Orleans in September but was moved to Orlando in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The heat is also being turned up among computing and media giants Microsoft, Yahoo, Sun, Google, Comcast and AOL. Microsoft executives say the company has been talking to Yahoo for years about instant messaging interoperability, so it was only a coincidence that the pairs announcement of such interoperability came a week after Sun and Google unveiled their partnership to do great things with the Google Toolbar. Google also was involved late last week with Comcast to buy a chunk of AOL, which itself was reported to be involved in talks earlier this month around an online alliance with Microsoft. See Shelley Solheims story to help sort it all out.

eWEEK magazine editor Scot Petersen can be reached at


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Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...