'Reputation' weapons help spurn Web 2.0 malware

The browser has become the new battleground

Reputation-measurement is one of the newer ways of blocking malware in a world where threats have grown more elaborate and cunning, and Web 2.0 has grown the audience for rich media.

While the continuing usefulness of traditional virus-signature identification should not be underrated, at least two techniques are now in common use whose specific aim to evade it, according to Scott Montgomery, vice-president of global technical strategy at Californian-based Secure Computing.

The first technique is polymorphism, which involves producing a piece of malware in a number of variants with similar payload and mode of attack but written so as to offer a slightly different signature to filters.

A more widespread problem, however, is packer malware. This involves compressing, and sometimes even encrypting, agents before sending them, so as to evade filters tuned to particular signatures. The key to unscramble the infective agent and make it operational is then sent in a separate transmission.

Measures of malicious traffic by German malware analyst AVtest.org show no less than 48 per cent of recent malware came in packed and/or encrypted form, says Montgomery. Signature-based detectors are of little use against this type of malware. The best hope of detecting its presence is by its behavior.

"If it tries to change permissions on files, change registry entries or start up a shell, then it's probably up to no good."

The new weapon against malware -- and one that is quite potent -- involves rating sources of traffic by reputation, says Montgomery. The domains of people and companies you know and trust, or who have a good commercial reputation, are given a high "reputation" score; while domains that send out a lot of traffic but have little or no in-coming traffic fall under suspicion of being potential spam sources.

Some reputation-scoring can be done by the receiving individual or organization, but companies like Secure Computing maintain a large population of sensors and build reputation scores internationally, by means of continuous monitoring.

Adding the two together helps build up a picture of who can be trusted. "But it's a question of risk analysis," Montgomery says. Reputation analysis can only give a score; it's up to the receiver to decide where to draw the line between probably okay and probably not okay.

The set of developments known collectively as Web 2.0 involve richer media and a growing amount of dynamic content that works interactively within the browser, rather than at the server level.

"The browser has become the new battleground," says Montgomery.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Bell

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?