[Offtopic] 'CloudAV' next-gen antivirus
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun Aug 10 16:16:23 EST 2008
Aug. 5, 2008 http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=6666
Researchers develop next-generation antivirus system
ANN ARBOR, Mich.Antivirus software on your personal computer could become
a thing of the past thanks to a new "cloud computing" approach to
malicious software detection developed at the University of Michigan.
Cloud computing refers to applications and services provided seamlessly on
Traditional antivirus software is installed on millions of individual
computers around the world but according to researchers, antivirus
software from popular vendors is increasingly ineffective.
The researchers observed malwaremalicious softwaredetection rates as low
as 35 percent against the most recent threats and an average window of
vulnerability exceeding 48 days.
That means new threats went undetected for an average of seven weeks.
The computer scientists also found severe vulnerabilities in the antivirus
The researchers' new approach, called CloudAV, moves antivirus
functionality into the "network cloud" and off personal computers.
CloudAV analyzes suspicious files using multiple antivirus and behavioral
detection programs simultaneously.
"CloudAV virtualizes and parallelizes detection functionality with
multiple antivirus engines, significantly increasing overall protection,"
said Farnam Jahanian, professor of computer science and engineering in the
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Jahanian, along with doctoral candidate Jon Oberheide and postdoctoral
fellow Evan Cooke, both in the Department of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science, recently presented a paper on the new approach at the
USENIX Security Symposium.
To develop this novel approach, the researchers evaluated 12 traditional
antivirus software programs against 7,220 malware samples, including
viruses, collected over a year. The vendors tested were: Avast, AVG,
BitDefender, ClamAV, CWSandbox, F-Prot, F-Secure, Kaspersky, McAfee,
Norman Sandbox, Symantec and Trend Micro.
Traditional antivirus software that resides on a personal computer checks
documents and programs as they are accessed. Because of performance
constraints and program incompatibilities, only one antivirus detector is
typically used at a time.
CloudAV, however, can support a large number of malicious software
detectors that act in parallel to analyze a single incoming file. Each
detector operates in its own virtual machine, so the technical
incompatibilities and security issues are resolved, Oberheide said.
CloudAV is accessible to any computer or mobile device on the network that
runs a simple software agent. Each time a computer or device receives a
new document or program, that item is automatically detected and sent to
the antivirus cloud for analysis.
The CloudAV system the researchers built uses 12 different detectors that
act together to tell the inquiring computer whether the item is safe to
CloudAV also caches analysis results, speeding up the process compared
with traditional antivirus software. This could be useful for workplaces,
for example, where multiple employees might access the same document.
The new approach also includes what the developers call "retrospective
detection," which scans its file access history when a new threat is
identified. This allows it to catch previously-missed infections earlier.
The researchers see promising opportunities in applying CloudAV to cell
phones and other mobile devices that aren't robust enough to carry
powerful antivirus software.
The paper is called: CloudAV: N-Version Antivirus in the Network Cloud.
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