Is your Anti-Virus a Waste of Time?

by Robert Vibert (1998)

Buying an Anti-Virus product and not properly installing it or updating it is a complete waste of money.

With all the changes in the Anti-Virus field, I’ve had discussions with a number of major Canadian organizations, and the conclusion is always the same – it does not matter if an Anti-Virus product is good or even great at detecting viruses; if the latest version is not installed and configured properly to match your needs, it’s only a matter of time until you have a virus incident.

Organizations have paid for virus protection but are still vulnerable to lost time, corrupted data or even network downtime if the latest virus is not detected because the most recent version of the anti-virus software is sitting on a shelf, undeployed.

Anti-virus software developers have done a good job of consistently improving the virus detection capabilities in their products. But no matter what brand of anti-virus was purchased by the organization, the complaints I’ve heard have been consistent: ‘We are getting insufficient assistance in learning how to deploy and use the anti-virus software, especially when it comes to matching the product’s capabilities to our environment and policies.’

In most organizations, the shortage of trained personnel for the multitude of information technology projects underway, particularly those related to Year 2000, has resulted in slow and inconsistent deployment of anti-virus software, with substantial difficulties being encountered. Some anti-virus software manufacturers offer mechanisms for deploying their software, but these tools often are limited to certain platforms and environments and have a steep learning curve.

Together with the team I formed at Sensible Security, we assisted major Canadian organizations, both in the private and public sector, with the design and implementation of comprehensive anti-virus solutions for three years. We provided Anti-Virus Alerts and virus information to anyone who has solving anti-virus issues as their responsibility, regardless of which anti-virus product they were using. My team at Sensible Security garnered a reputation amongst users of its services for being the premiere anti-virus solution provider in Canada. I was even been asked to provide training to the US technical support teams of some anti-virus products.

(Note – Robert Vibert has had no involvement in the team at Sensible Security since July 1999, when he sold his interest in that company. No endorsement of Sensible Security is implied by this article.)