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Antivirus Tools Ineffective Magic, Says Google’s Senior Security Engineer

Antivirus are largely ineffective and the security field should focus on something more lucrative for technology.

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It is a common conception that antivirus is essential to a computer system, but Google’s senior security engineer Darren Bilby believes to the contrary.

Speaking at Kiwicon hacking conference last November, Bilby, manager of Platform Integrity team as part of the Enterprise Infrastructure Protection Group, explained his stance. In his opinion, antivirus apps are largely ineffective and the security field should focus on something more lucrative for technology.

He referred to a series of cyberattacks namely 2009 Operation Aurora campaign, that made several computers vulnerable to attacks. Holding attacks like those as example, he builds on his stance that antivirus has been in fact, ineffective.

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Antivirus, he continues, are mostly ineffective magic that admins install out of compulsion, and not because they are effective. Instead of investigating products that haven’t performed, it is necessary to invest effort in an alternate solution. He went to surmise:

Antivirus does some useful things, but in reality it is more like a canary in the coal mine. It is worse than that. It’s like we are standing around the dead canary saying ‘Thank god it inhaled all the poisonous gas’.

Focusing On Effective Solutions

The Google engineer eventually calls for security experts and hackers to concentrate on things that are more important, such as intrusion detection systems that can make a difference and protect users even if they access malicious websites or open compromised documents.

And sure you are going to have to spend some time on things like intrusion detection systems because that’s what the industry has decided is the plan, but allocate some time to working on things that actually genuinely help.

Most companies blame users for getting their system compromised because they click on links and files that are infected. In reality, the security of these systems isn’t competent enough to protect them. This calls for security engineers to focus on fortifying the system.

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According to Bilby, networks are not stable enough. Individuals can use mobile networks to upload data to various cloud services that are not adequately protected.

Thoughts on effectiveness of an antivirus are much varied. However, it is reasonable on Bilby’s part to urge his fellow security personnel to devote effort to building a robust and secure system.

We are giving people systems that are not safe for the internet and we are blaming the user.

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