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Malware Defense History

by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov.

Copyright: Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov 1994-2013. Unpublished notes. Version 0.80.October, 2013

Contents : Foreword : Ch01 : Ch02 : Ch03  : Ch04 : Ch05 : Ch06 : Ch07 : Ch08 : Ch09 : Ch10 : Ch11 : Ch12 : Ch13

Chapter 2: Social Aspects of Malware

The Problem of False Positives in the Malware Defense

Each day, many cases in corporate environment that are reported by customers that are not actual cases of malware infections. They just attribute problems they have with Windows environment or try to conceal their own mishaps blaming them on malware. This class of incidents we can call false alarms. Paranoid users and sometimes system administrators often blame on a computer virus effects that they cannot understand/explain. We will discuss them later. Here we briefly discuss then the course of "misstatement" of the treat are antivirus (or more generally antimalware) vendors reporting threats that do no exist.

There are also three major cases when antivirus/antimalware product report threat that does not exist:

Those two types of incidents we can call false-positives.

The problem of false positives is as old as first computer viruses and a lot of people were already aware about this problem in 1989 when first DOS viruses started spreading.

In the past the main course of false positives are antivirus scanners such products as Inoculan, McAfee and F-secure.  The old version 4.0x sometimes recognized regular VBscript program as MS Word documents and produce messages like "Infection: 'Macro.Word97.Class.eb' [AVP]. Very distressing experience if one hundred remote and clueless users get this message in one day. Probably real virus would be less frustrating ;-)

Usually file viruses and macro viruses are reported as false positive, sometimes interesting combinations arise. For example now obsolete F-prot 2.xx   reported as infected any MS Word document that was disinfected by corresponding version of McAfee. That was very interesting experience if one part of the corporation uses F-prot and other McAfee ;-)

Another interesting combination arise if false positive detected but AV program unable to disinfect it and either renames it or put is some directory. That's when AV program became a real 100% pure Trojan Horse.

Inoculan is especially bad as it not only reports about files as infected when they are not, but moves them to the Infected directory. So Inoculan can be considered as a sort of Trojan Horse and may prevent installation of the packages on the network drive.

Some recommendations for corporate anti-virus analysts

Don't play God with the user. Reveal the simple truth that you are a regular system administrator who is by-and-large is in complete mercy of evil AV vendors ;-). Train users not believe AV program messages without simple additional checking.

If your AV program has customizable message in situation when virus is found adapt it to reality. For example in F-secure 4.0x (now obsolete) in  Preferences/Scanning of the administrator console windows the beep may  be switched off and the message under "When a Virus is Found" may  be changed to (please correct my English and modify the following message so that it better suit your needs, using the same idea):

This message is produced for both actual infections and so called false positives (cases when files does not actually contain virus, but due to high sensitivity of the XXX virus scanning engine were diagnosed as such). As for <put date here, for example 12/08/99> known false positives include:

< add your current problems here, for example:

yyyyyyyy.sys -- is diagnosed as "Virus-like code found by heuristics [XXX]" (funny drivers should be expected to have virus-like code)

some Notes-related files (usually with extention .tmp) are diagnozed as having "Infection: 'Macro.Word97.Class.eb' [XXX]

For all categories mentioned above please ignore the message. In case the message displayed is not in the categories mentioned above this might be an actual virus infection or yet unknown false positive. Please contact your Local LAN administrator of Local Help Desk. Thank you.



Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

Copyright © 1996-2018 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. was initially created as a service to the (now defunct) UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time and without any remuneration. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.

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