Is anti-virus obsolete?

The problem with anti-virus programs these days is that so many viruses come out every hour that anti-virus programs can hardly keep their list of virus signatures up to date. If your anti-virus program doesn’t know a virus is “bad” until hours after the virus arrived, you are still infected and it may be too late.

A strategy that keeps gaining ground is the concept of “white listing” applications. In plain English, this means your computers have a list of programs that are on the “approved” list to run, such as Word, Firefox, Acrobat, Excel, etc.

Then, any other program cannot run. Period. That means virus 1, virus 2, virus 999, etc. is not allowed to run. This solves the whole problem of needing anti-virus. In theory, even if a virus does come into your network through e-mail, web site drive by download, or Ernie in shipping carrying in an infected memory stick, it doesn’t matter. The virus cannot run anyway!

The challenge lies in your IT department being able to keep an organized white list of “approved” programs. When an update to a program arrives, the new update has to be listed too or it will not run.

Many providers are offering solutions including Bit9 Parity and Lumension Application Control and there are constant advancements in making administration even easier.

Yes, some day anti-virus may be old news and never used again.


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