The death of antivirus?

Last updated: 21 May 2014

Predictions about the demise of any given technology or way of working often turn out to be premature. However, the claim from Symantec Senior President Brian Dye that antivirus software “is dead” feels like a landmark, not least because Dye’s company has been one of the leading vendors of this software for decades.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Dye explained that Symantec’s new approach to cybersecurity is no longer focused on preventing hackers from gaining access to its customer’s systems, but instead to control and limit the damage they can inflict having done so. He also estimated that traditional antivirus software only catches around 45% of cyber-attacks.

Whilst he’s been criticised for oversimplifying the message for marketing impact, in some regards his boldness should be applauded. The cybersecurity landscape has moved on since the days when basic antivirus products alone could claim to provide an adequate defence against malware, and the fact that many large organisations (including banks) continue to rely mainly upon AV to protect their customers’ online banking transactions is a big worry. Today’s threats are more sophisticated, more diverse and more challenging to identify and tackle.

The adoption of stronger authentication solutions (both by businesses and individuals) is just one of a necessary number of steps forward within the security industry over the past decade, and no doubt the years to come will see plenty more.