Better double-think downloading that mysterious e-mail attachment. In recent years, malware has become increasingly customizable and hackers are now able to attack their victims through sneakier methods. Since antivirus software programs like McAfee and Symantec operate by identifying familiar signatures or patterns in malicious software codes, they have had difficulty recognizing the threat of these customized forms of malware. The New York Times recently fell victim to an attack by Chinese hackers, who were able to circumvent the company’s Symantec protection and infiltrate its network through sending infected e-mails to its employees. With incidents like this is in mind, many company executives are questioning whether antivirus programs are worth the cost of installation.
For many companies, installing antivirus programs is not a choice. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) requires retailers that accept credit cards to be protected by antivirus software. Other companies may still want to install antivirus software as a means of protection from less complicated threats. Steven Ashley, an analyst with financial services firm Robert W. Baird, offers the analogy, “Even if someone broke into a guarded office or facility, you won’t take down the fence around it.” While it seems unlikely that the demand for antivirus programs will drop significantly, companies like Symantec are making extra efforts to keep their customers safe and satisfied by adding new blocking features to determine the risk of opening e-mail attachments. Antivirus software is certainly equipped with features that are beneficial to securing company information, but given the rapidly developing state of malware attacks, it seems only practical that companies like the New York Times are exploring new options to keep their company information private.