Opinion

Good guys doing bad things, part 2

A few days ago David wrote about ConsumerReports, which created around 5,500 new virus variants in order to test antivirus solutions. Like most antivirus companies, we weren’t particularly impressed by this.

Recently a writer for heise.de, probably the best known German IT website, picked up on the topic, criticizing the reaction of antivirus companies: “[they] fail to notice that they sound like Mercedes dealers complaining about the ‘elk test’ – arguing that there are enough real accidents to analyze the safety measures of their cars.”

This comparison is specious: in the context of antivirus testing, the ‘real accident’ is a computer or network infected by in the wild malware, and the ‘elk test’ is controlled testing under laboratory conditions. We’ve got nothing against controlled testing, as long as it uses malware which exists in the same form in the wild. We’re also in favour of testing solutions which have deliberately not been updated – old signatures mean that heuristics and proactive protection technologies can be fully tested.

I can’t see any benefit in using newly created variants of existing malware in tests. And the argument that these new creations won’t be made publicly available is irrelevant here. At the end of the day, such tests could lead to an atmosphere of open competition, with the testers attempting to trick as many antivirus solutions as possible by using more new and different malware. Of course, this would all be in the name of security… but it could decrease the amount of effort virus writers have to put in, with the burden ultimately being borne by end users.

Good guys doing bad things, part 2

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Reports

The leap of a Cycldek-related threat actor

The investigation described in this article started with one such file which caught our attention due to the various improvements it brought to this well-known infection vector.

Lazarus targets defense industry with ThreatNeedle

In mid-2020, we realized that Lazarus was launching attacks on the defense industry using the ThreatNeedle cluster, an advanced malware cluster of Manuscrypt (a.k.a. NukeSped). While investigating this activity, we were able to observe the complete life cycle of an attack, uncovering more technical details and links to the group’s other campaigns.

Sunburst backdoor – code overlaps with Kazuar

While looking at the Sunburst backdoor, we discovered several features that overlap with a previously identified backdoor known as Kazuar. Our observations shows that Kazuar was used together with Turla tools during multiple breaches in past years.

Subscribe to our weekly e-mails

The hottest research right in your inbox