Why Your Security Software Failed You

One of the most common questions we receive from people who have had problems with malware infections is, “Why didn’t my security software protect me?” If you’ve suffered a security breach, despite having such software in place, read on to find out why this may have happened, and how to prevent it in the future. If you’re lucky enough to have a network completely untouched by infection, great! If you want to keep it that way, keep reading.  

First, it’s important to recognize that there is no security software that is 100% effective, or that will detect every single piece of malware out on the Internet. It’s just impossible, considering there are thousands of new malware variants released on a daily basis.

To an extent, modern security products are still heavily reliant on what is called “signature based detection.” What that means is, a new variant of a piece of malware first has to be discovered, researched, etc. before it is added to your security product’s database of items to protect against.

In addition to “signature based detection”, a good security product will also utilize what is known as “heuristic based detection.” An heuristic based detection helps the anti-virus software look for infection types that might not be part of the detection database itself, but display attributes and characteristics of how malware behaves.

Let’s say your security product employs both signature based detection and heuristic based detection, that’s definitely a product that should suffice as protection by modern standards. However, the fact remains that no security product can detect 100% of available infection types. As an example, Norton might detect certain types of malware that McAfee can’t detect, and vice versa.

The bad guys behind the malware are perfecting their craft day in and day out. With the prevalence of the bad guys using rootkit technology to now infect users, your typical security software doesn’t stand a chance, and more often than not can only alert you of an infection that’s already taken place.

No security software is going to change human behavior. It’s not going to stop humans from falling for various social engineering attacks, it’s not going to stop humans from clicking the wrong link or visiting questionable websites, and it’s not going to stop humans from clicking the fake “You’re in a crazy video” Facebook scams.

The key is arming yourself with information and knowing when to ask your internal IT security expert or managed service provider for guidance and help. In the meantime, check out this article from PC World for tips on how to protect your network from malware with smart online behavior!