Symantec’s “AV is Dead” Is Not News

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On Monday, an executive at Symantec declared “AV is dead.” He went on to repeat to several media outlets that protecting customers on their PC and Mac computers had become an impossible battle that they were ready to concede. He indicated that Symantec desktop AV products are only able to stop viruses and malware about 45% of the time. Based on this analysis, what the exec was really saying was “Symantec AV is dead!”

What really should have been communicated was that traditional signature-based AV protection does not work – the criminals have figured out how to get around it. Symantec, like all signature-based security products for PC and Mac computers, uses a nearly identical methodology for determining whether a file is malicious or safe. This approach has changed very little since it was developed in the 1980s. Criminals identified the chinks in this armor long ago and have been developing more clever, more aggressive and more dangerous strains of malware for years.

Symantec is not alone in declaring the end of desktop AV solutions. There has been increasing product investment in the industry into solutions that are not focused on protection, but on after-the-breach detection and remediation. We see this as a disturbing trend. If your internet security company is no longer focused on protection, but has signaled surrender to the cybercriminals, they are exposing millions of customers to serious financial and data loss.

At Webroot, we reject the notion that a highly effective desktop AV solution cannot be created. We did it three years ago. Our Webroot SecureAnywhere products for consumers and businesses are radically different and extraordinarily effective at protecting customers from viruses, malware, rootkits, ransomware, identity theft, phishing attacks, and advanced persistent threats. SecureAnywhere solutions turned the old traditional 1980s model on its ear by doing nearly everything in a different way – no signatures, no huge malware definition files to update every day. Just real-time, worldwide protection for every customer using the power of cloud computing, threat intelligence, and some fiendishly clever data modeling.

Our cloud-based security approach has resulted in very happy customers (95% customer satisfaction rates) and outstanding levels of protection (over 99% as measured by actual customer support incidents.)

Desktop and mobile AV solutions should still be a critical part of any company’s layered security model. Otherwise, if you truly think AV is dead, you might just have the wrong AV solution.

To quote Neil Rubenking, editor of Security Watch at PCMag.com, “AV is not dead, and saying so is not news.”


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About the Author

Name: Mike Malloy
Role: Threat Team Member

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Executive Vice President of Products and Strategy

Michael Malloy is responsible for providing strategic and tactical direction to Webroot’s product and business organizations. Malloy brings to Webroot more than 30 years of leadership experience with technology and financial services firms. Before joining Webroot, Malloy was vice president of marketing and sales for New Relic, where he was responsible for a tenfold increase in the company’s customer base in a two-year period. Malloy previously held executive management roles for several leading companies including Wily Technology (now part of CA), where as chief marketing officer and senior vice president of product development he launched 35 new products and six major revisions of the company’s flagship product. Malloy received a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Louis University.


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