Cisco Chief claims antivirus software is a waste of money

By Justin Mann on May 22, 2008, 12:18 PM
Recently, Cisco's Chief Security Office, John Stewart, made an interesting statement regarding the nature of today's virus and malware threats. He has stated that spending money on Antivirus (along with other types of malware protection) is a complete waste, with vendors fighting an uphill battle that they are losing. It's a statement that many could probably relate to, as often even a machine that is fully patched and fully updated can still fall prey to viruses or spyware.

Mr. Stewart asserts that the frequency of new malicious software being released into the wild has made it so commonplace as to be almost ignorable, with companies preferring to just “live with them” rather than struggle to fight them. That sounds like a complete loss of hope, but it wasn't all doom and gloom – he vouched for the idea of white-listing software, crafting systems that only let certain software execute at all. Provided that control is in the hands of the user (or at least whoever administers the machine), it's a nice ideal if not completely realistic.

A lot of people disagree with that point of view – the regional director of McAfee, for instance, who retorted to the Cisco Chief's comments, claiming that while AV suites are not perfect, it is certainly leagues better than having an unprotected machine.

User Comments: 2

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geekguy said:
This guy is a ***** and shouldn't be a chief of as large of a company as he is. The reality is that Whitelisting by itself will never stop vulnerabilities from being exploited, most Web based malware infect what would be a "Valid" application such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, it would be almost impossible for large enterprises to manage the disperate applications that exist. I do however believe that combining several technologies together is not a bad idea such as AV, Anti Malware and Whitelising which most of the Anti-Virus vendors are already doing in combinat
9Nails said:
Three solutions come to my mind... Good habits, Deep Freeze, and Virtualization.With good browsing habits, very little happens to a computer. A decent firewall can stop most of the probing malware from finding your computer and safe browsing habits (Stay away from cracks & hacks, avoid peer-to-peer downloads, limit downloads, etc) complete the discipline needed to keep your computer safe.Deep Freeze is software that ensure nothing changes to the disk structure without an Administrator making those changes. It's a near perfect solution where a reboot restores a system to it's perfect state.Virtualization takes a similar approach to Deep Freeze, except a Host Operating System is involved but hopefully hardened. The Guest OS touches the Internet, and should it become infected a restore to a previous SnapShot removed all traces of the infection.
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