Good news or is it?

By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech cyberwarfare correspondent

The cyber threat environment continues to evolve. The sophistication and complexity of the threats continue to surprise those who monitor this threat closely. However, there may be some good news, or is there? Multiple reports have been issued that show a slowdown in malware growth. First off, there are reports of 25 million strains of new malware being introduced in 2009. Malware’s average annual growth rate of nearly 100% dramatically dropped in 2010 with an estimated 28 to 30 million new strains being released.

One of the main reasons for the slowdown is the transition to Windows 7. History has shown us that when a new operating system is introduced, malware developers take a little over a year to learn the operating system, identify undisclosed vulnerabilities and produce malware. Analysis indicates 2010 began that transition. That means that in 2011 we will see the onset of malware addressing the Windows 7 operating system. The response will be the same as with every other cyber threat introduced to a new operating system. We will wait and see what vulnerabilities the new malware targets and create signatures that identify similar strains of the malware and put it in our security software. We repeat that process every single time a new piece of malware is discovered.

Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We keep addressing security in the same way year after year and we get the same results, but expect our ability to defend against malware and hacking to improve. It is far past time we take a new and innovative approach to protecting our information assets.  However, the recession and slow economic growth caused many organizations to reduce funding for research and development as well as product enhancement. In the past few years we lost ground when it comes to overall cyber defense.

  • blight

    Summary:

    Hackers have slowed exploits because there is a new OS that has to be hit: Windows 7. They will be back in business in a year.

    The recession means less pay for good guys, and more unemployed good guys.

  • blight

    Once a OS starts pushing millions of lines of code and you have a great deal of hetereogenity in your applications, you’re simply asking for trouble. You can make Pong bug free and hackproof, but the OS environment is complex and vulnerable.

    It’s possible that a different, more secure programming language is required; rather than one which is reasonably forgiving.

  • nraddin

    Cyber Security is no different that physical security in the vast majority of ways. Physical security has struggled for well over 10,000 years with the idea of making a person perfectly safe yet allow them the freedom of movement they need to do their jobs and live their lives. As every security professional will tell you there is no perfectly safe and there is no complete freedom of movement. The more freedom the asset has the harder it is to keep that asset secure, the more secure that asset is the less freedom it has.

  • brian

    The interesting thing about these threats is that they tend to come from a very small set of actors who have the advanced skill sets and the inclination to waste their time trashing other people’s networks, and or criminal organizations that are committing specific crimes for certain profit. If you were determined to make this problem more manageable, you could do so by identifying and eliminating those creating the malware. Of course you would need to be certain to target Non-US citizens living abroad so we don’t violate constitutional protections, but by and large these criminals live abroad where there is no law to act against them.

  • tee

    Another major problem is, companies aren’t upgrading their software / equipment ( firewalls ) as often as they should. Because of the economy they are trying to save peoples jobs vs needed upgrades. I have seen this a lot with my clients in the last 2 years.

  • blight

    Also:

    It’s spelled asymmetric, not assymmetric. Fix please.

  • Technolytics

    Ass ymmetric may be more accurate in some cases!