Will Patent Battles Make Your Computer Less Secure?

from the hurray-for-patents dept

Just as a new study is coming out suggesting that anti-virus software is getting worse at actually protecting your computer comes some other news that there's a brewing patent battle in the anti-virus world, with one firm, Trend Micro, going after a bunch of other companies for daring to use similar techniques in trying to protect computer equipment. If ever there were a perfect example of patents being used to hold back progress, this would be it. Computer security is incredibly important -- but it's a rapidly changing field, as both the "good guys" and the "bad guys" need to be constantly adjusting. Preventing firms from being able to use one method (and to improve on it, change it, build on it, etc.) simply gives the malware writers a huge leg up. They have no such qualms about building off of others' work, and this will simply lead to malware getting further and further ahead of security software, as security companies are held up in their ability to continue to adapt.

Filed Under: computer security, patents, security
Companies: trend micro

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  1. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 27 Dec 2007 @ 8:14am

    Re: AV software is unimportant to security

    I've forgotten none of them, actually. I simply recognize that (and this is one reason why I referenced Ranum's excellent article) defenses which rely on frequent signatures updates (or their equivalent) are inherently flawed. AV products aren't the only things that fall into this category, they're just one of the more prevalent.

    Real security does not come from band-aids like AV. Real security comes from OS and application software that is written to be secure, which is subjected to peer review, which is thoroughly audited for weaknesses, and which utilizes concepts such as default-deny, least-privilege, etc. Now, granted, sometimes it happens that even though all those things are done, there's still a problem. We are, after all, still learning. But it should be obvious to everyone who's watched the last 20-30 years of computer security unfold that this approach actually has a fighting chance of working, whereas use of band-aids (like AV) is a path to certain failure.

    Ranum's article, by the way, is here.

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