OVERVIEW

According to searchsecurity.techtarget.com "The label "antivirus" was originally given to programs that identified and removed a particular type of malware called a virus. Today, however, antivirus programs are useful for preventing infections caused by many types of malware, including worms, Trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, keyloggers, ransomware and adware. In marketing, the terms antivirus and antimalware are often used as synonyms.”

Bitdefender

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Kaspersky Lab

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Avira

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ANTIVIRUS TECHNOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

Antivirus technology is known as anti-malware, real time malware protection, real time guard or file monitoring, which is software that protects a computer from infections by detecting, preventing and removing malicious code. As the name implies it was invented to detect and eradicate computer malwares. Through the explosion of other kinds of malware, antivirus technology was improved and managed to protect computers from other computer attacks. Current antivirus technology can help a device from a variety of attacks such as backdoors, keyloggers, rootkits, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, ransomware, fraudtools and dialers. Some of the better products also help against scams, spams, online banking attacks, distributed denial of service attacks as well as advanced persistent threats. I will be discussing how antivirus technology and how its industry evolved, how paid compare with unpaid malware protection programs, and market share information of the widely used malware protection programs.

THE "CREEPER" VIRUS AND "REAPER" ANTIVIRUS

One of the very first viruses that was introduced in the technology industry several decades back was the Creeper virus. This creeper virus was manufactured in 1971 and infected dozens of computers and mainframes running the TEXNEX operating system. Once the virus was transferred to a computer it displayed a message on the screen saying “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!”. The difference between the Creeper virus and other viruses manufactured around the same time was that the Creeper virus managed to get rid of the previous versions of its code during duplication. Following the outburst of the virus that caused much havoc there were programmers and hackers that attempted to build an Antivirus which could stop the Creeper Virus, but most of them failed. Finally, there was Ray Tomlinson who created an Antivirus which was able to remove the Creeper Virus. This antivirus was named the “Reaper” which was a virus itself that was designed to consume the Creeper virus. Following the Creeper virus there were more viruses on the rise. Viruses that were previously designed only caused havoc and didn’t have the ability to reproduce themselves. However, those viruses became more advanced and had the ability to damage other computer systems.

THE EMERGING "BRAIN" VIRUS

The next major virus occurred in the 1980’s and was called the “Brain” virus, which was IBM PC compatible. The “Brain” Virus came to light in 1986 and it operated through infecting the Boot Sector of storage medias formatted with the DOS File Allocation Table file system. Infected boot sectors were identified with five kilobytes of bad sectors and considerably slowed down storage medias. In addition, it displayed a message “Welcome to the Dungeon © 1986 Basit & Amjad (pvt) Ltd. ; BRAIN COMPUTER SERVICES ; 730 NIZAB BLOCK ALLAMA IQBAL TOWN ; LAHORE-PAKISTAN ; PHONE :430791,443248,280530. ; Beware of this VIRUS.... Contact us for vaccination............ $#@%$@!!” The virus was created by two brothers named Ajmjad Farooq Alvi and Basit Farooq Alvi with intention to protect their medical software from bandits. It is important to note that there are a variety of ways in which malwares can transmit themselves on a computer system. Methods include through file transmissions, data on hard drives, network drives, removable storages, disk boot sectors and computer memory.

HEURISTIC ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMS

In 1987, Flushot Plus and Anti4us were both heuristic antivirus utilities that became available. Even though, they had heuristic capabilities the antiviruses were much different than the antivirus products in today’s society that hold heuristic engines. The first Antivirus holding a heuristic engine that is much alike the antivirus products used in today’s society is the so called F-Prot. F-Prot provides anti-spam services and competes against other well-known antivirus products such as Panda Security, Sophos, Symantec and Avira.

THE INTERNET AGE AND ANTIVIRUS

Between 1987 and 1989, two individuals made a positive impact on the antivirus industry by offering services against malware infection. The different services included informing others about shareware, tools and security and sharing information. Their intent was to minimize and eliminate attacks and infections which they managed to do. Those two individuals were John McAfee and Eugene Kaspersky. In the following years McAfee created his own business selling software that would increase the safety of software and hardware in the information technology industry. Later on, Kaspersky and Norton did the same thing. They each became very successful through the creation of their business.

Antivirus in the mid 80’s was useful for detecting and deleting viruses, but most of them were not up-to-date with their functionalities and features, which made it very difficult to rely on them. Prior internet connectivity majority of viruses at the time were spread through floppy disks. A big transition occurred in the early 90’s as people started to get access to the internet. Attacks that were spread via floppy disks managed themselves to transmit via the internet. Malicious attacks became much more difficult to deal with and antivirus technology needed to be improved. Having the ability to run email software, download software and run different types of coded scripts in applications and web browsers, gave programmers with malicious purposes the opportunity to steal information from any location in the world. Physical access to a system was no longer vital due to the ability to obtain internet connection. Most often unknown users in the world wide web were the cause of the spread of malwares.

During the 1990’s and 2000’s noteworthy items happened such as the “Michelangelo” virus which was designed to infect a DOS system. There was the “ILOVEYOU” worm that reached millions of internet users, the “Concept” which was used to attack Microsoft Word documents, the “Melisa” virus that was shared via email protocols, and the “SQL Slammer” worm which managed to crash the internet by corrupting Microsoft SQL Server Data Engine and Microsoft SQL. Through the prevalence of different dangerous viruses, antivirus technology made advancements and became more effective by implementing heuristics, rootkit detection, signature-based detection, real-time protection and automated updates.

VENDOR MARKET SHARE

However, when discussing the different types of antivirus technologies and its evolution, it is important to view market statistics for these technologies by vendor and product market share. It is very interesting to look at the survey statistics published by OPSWAT in year 2015. It reveals each of the products success and how they compare with the other antivirus technologies. The top three on the vendor market share list are Avast, Microsoft and AVG. Avast with a market share of 21.4%, Microsoft 19.4%, AVG 8.6%, Avira 7.4%, Symantec 7.1%, McAfee 6.2%, Eset 4.2%, Kaspersky Lab 3.5%, Comodo 2.6%, Spybot 2.1%, Bitdefender 1.8% and others equal up to 15.8%. According to OPSWAT “Microsoft and Avast are consistently the dominant vendors in their reports, although Microsoft’s Windows Defender, which was included in previous reports, has been removed from this data because it is feature of Windows 8 and 8.1 and not actively acquired by the user. “Looking at these statistics may surprise many people given that both Bitdefender and Kaspersky Lab are towards the bottom of the list.

PRODUCT MARKET SHARE

When looking at the Antivirus distribution by product market share Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast! Free Antivirus and Avira Free Antivirus are all at the top of the list. Microsoft Security Essentials has a product market share of 17.8%, Avast! Free Antivirus 17.6% and Avira Free Antivirus 5.9%. They are followed by AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition with 5.0%, McAfee Virus Scan 3.6%, Symantec Endpoint Protection 3.6%, Norton 360 2.4%, Kaspersky Internet Security and McAfee Virus Scan Enterprise 2.2%, Spybot – Search & Destroy 2.1%, Comodo Antivirus 1.9% and others with 35.8%.

USE OF REAL TIME PROTECTION

Besides looking at both vendor and product market share it is important to look at the antivirus usage. According to OPSWAT, the antivirus software’s that are more user friendly are likely to be used by users in real time. The malware protection software that is favored by the largest number of people is Symantec Endpoint Protection consisting of 97.5%. Following are, McAfee Virus Scan and Norton 360 consisting of 96.3%, and Microsoft Security Essentials consisting of 96%. Next in the line are Comodo Antivirus, Avira Free Antivirus, McAfee VirusScan Enterprise, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, Avast! Free Antivirus, Spybot Search & Destroy, and lastly Kaspersky Lab with 66% users. When considering an antivirus product that would best suit a person’s machine one may reference to the above statistics but then also examine costless, paid, suites and premium antivirus programs since they all provide malware-protection features.

PAID VS. COSTLESS ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMS

In general, costless antivirus software provides bare minimum detection and has the ability to only scan the system for antiviruses. However, if you are examining the paid versions you will realize that you are being offered more advanced features such as firewalls, parental controls, identity theft protection and system performance tools. Costless and paid antivirus software’s both provide a basic and user-friendly design. Regarding detection speeds, a costless antivirus product is said to be on average faster at detecting malware. The difference in speed was minimal, however the greatest difference measured in speed was 10 percent. Even though, the slight difference in speed paid malware protection tools compensate for it through their additional features and functionalities with their ability to prevent a malware from penetrating one’s system.

CONCLUSION

In today’s society many technology users do not realize how important it is to have antivirus technology on their device until they become victim of such a malicious attack. Antivirus technology is in demand right now and will continue to be in demand in the future since technology is advancing at rapid speed. People that learn about how easily malwares can be transmitted and considering all of its consequences become very convinced that every technology user is in need of it. Malwares can be transmitted in many ways if you are connected to the internet. Malwares are transmitted through downloads and clicking on malicious links and being tech-savvy will not protect one from it. It may keep one more alert but chances of downloading a malicious file is similar to the one of unexperienced users.

SEMANTIC MARKUP

Semantic Markup also known as Semantic HTML is used to put information on websites without the use of any styles. CSS stylesheets make use of selectors and declaration blocks. Selectors may include specific types of elements such as classes and id’s specified by an attribute. On the other hand, declaration blocks include values, properties and colons. Each declaration block is separated by a semi-colon.

Moreover, semantic HTML is supported by long-established browsers and other user agents that work as clients in a network protocol. These UAs are capable of identifying devices and their properties in a network, adjusting content, redirecting users and analyzing basic web traffic. There is a list of common user agents that support different devices such as Mobile Phones, Set Top Boxes, Gaming Consoles and Tablets.

Following you will find one example of a User Agent for each device:

Mobile Phone/Samsung Galaxy S6: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; SM-G920V Build/MMB29K) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/52.0.2743.98 Mobile Safari/537.36

Set Top Box/ Chromecast: Mozilla/5.0 (CrKey armv7l 1.5.16041) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/31.0.1650.0 Safari/537.36

Gaming Console/ Playstation 4: Mozilla/5.0 (PlayStation 4 3.11) AppleWebKit/537.73 (KHTML, like Gecko)

Tablet/ Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 5.1.1; SHIELD Tablet Build/LMY48C) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/52.0.2743.98 Safari/537.36

508-Accessibiltiy – It refers to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which states that information technology and electronics must be accessible to people with disabilities. The technology includes Hardware, Software, Mobile and Web Sites. Government Agencies, Vendors/ Contractors for government agencies, and educational programs are all Section 508 Compliant.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – According to Webopedia search engine optimization consists of a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP). It includes Yahoo, Google, Bing and other search engines.

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