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Antivirus companies say their products no longer work

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The entire Antivirus industry has reportedly admitted to a serious product flaw:  antivirus products are poor at detecting or terminating new viruses that you might download. What’s the reason? Profit.

Every computer is a target, and with so much riding on the line – credit card info, social security numbers, address books and income statements, for-profit hackers are out to steal every last bit they can get, receiving bounties in the hundreds for compromising a single computer, and working diligently to infect hundreds of machines at a time.

Rather than using well-known vulnerabilities that most antivirus software vendors already know about, criminals are almost entirely focused on writing new code, bypassing known problems and customizing a new trojan with each hacking attempt.  The amount of work required and level of skill is much higher, but the rewards are a windfall, and every day more criminals are jumping on board to earn a larger slice of the pie. A recent study from Cisco showed that of 82 brand new viruses, only 5 percent were successfully detected by antivirus products. Users infected with malware aren’t even likely to notice until it’s too late. Most of these backdoor trojans can stay hidden for months, and even after exposing their owners might become dormant again for years.

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Now the race is on to provide a solution. Companies like Symantec, Kaspersky, McAfee and AVG are each working to improve their products with more complete bundles. Looking for known malware is “not keeping up” says Phil Hochmuth of Kaspersky. Network packet inspection, behavior monitoring, and system restore products are now part of a suite of solutions offered by most major anti-malware vendors and it’s likely to stay that way. As hackers become more sophisticated, computer protection will evolve to be more comprehensive in its abilities.

In order to defend yourself from these maladies, the only solution is a full range of products, such as those offered by Norton Complete or AOL Security Essentials. Microsoft’s free software or AVG-Free are okay for minimum protection, but don’t offer the full suite of scanning and monitoring that the other companies offer yet. While some packages might be as little as $50 for lifetime updates, others might be $30 per year for subscription based services. Either one is adequate depending on your needs and how many computers you need to license. In addition, some small businesses might use anti-malware firewalls that attempt to scan bad urls, but the price range for those solutions is still out of reach of the average internet user.

Don’t like how your computer is performing? Some of the regular methods of cleaning your computer might not do anything at all. For best results, contact a network professional or it consulting firm in your area.

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