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Two thirds of anti-virus users have infected PCs

Friday, October 24th 2014 by Dean Reilly

Although 95% of PC users have anti-virus protection on their computers, 65% of them are still infected, a technology boss has warned.

Thibaut Briere, marketing, strategy and communications director at Alcatel-Lucent, told Cable.co.uk that new solutions were needed to make home devices safer because rates of spyware and malware infection are getting worse.

Speaking at the Broadband World Forum conference in Amsterdam, Mr Briere said: “We’ve got evidence that on the PC side, most of the users have anti-virus, but most are infected anyway. 95% have anti-virus, but 65% are infected. It doesn’t work.

“Let’s talk about figures for the moment. Our security labs look at traffic and trends, analysing all the malware activity around the world. Every month, we see new malware. This month, for example, in October, there are 14% of home networks infected in the world.”

Mobile markets are even more at risk, Mr Briere added, with faster growth in infections on smartphones that desktop PCs and laptops.

He said: “On the mobile side it’s even worse. There are around 23 million infected mobile devices today. If you look at the growth rate on the mobile side, 23 million devices is probably about 1%, but the growth rate is impressive.

“Mobile infections grew 20% in 2013, and in 2014 it’s growing around 30%. We know the problem is only going to get worse because the growth rate is accelerating. Anti-virus isn’t efficient enough any more. They catch some malware, but only up to 50% of the malware. It’s just not enough. What do you do about the remaining 50%? We’re not saying anti-virus needs to go away, we’re saying let’s add another layer – a different approach.”

Promoting new network-based protection from the French company, Mr Briere added: “If you think differently, every piece of malware at some point will have to communicate the information it is trying to steal, to communicate that data back to the hacker.

“It will need to communicate with other botnets in the network, and it will generate traffic in the network. So we thought let’s make a network based solution, and compare a database of signatures that have around 30 million malware samples. What we’ve found is this is 30 times more efficient that traditional anti-virus.

“The reason is very simple, especially on the mobile side. Most malware is the same code, doing the same actions, but repackaged in many different ways. On the network, since it’s the same code, you just need one signature to detect the malware.”

Additional reporting by Ellen Branagh.

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