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2012's worst security exploits, fails and blunders

Brad Chacos | Dec. 31, 2012
A fool and his feeble p@$$w0rd are soon rooted, but if 2012 has proven anything, it's that even the most cautious security-minded souls need to double down on their protective practices, and think about the best ways to mitigate damage if the worst happens in our increasingly cloud-connected world.

Microsoft Security Essentials fails AV-Test certification

Well, isn't this embarrassing. AV-Test is an independent information security institute that regularly rounds up all the top antimalware products that are out there, tosses a whole bunch of nasties at said products, and sees how the various solutions hold up under the withering barrage. The organization did just that with 24 different consumer-focused security solutions at the end of November, and only one of those solutions failed to meet AV-Test's certification standard: Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7.

MSE actually did a decent job tackling well-known viruses in the test, but the security program provided appallingly little, well, securityin the face of zero-day exploits. Its 64 protection score against said zero-day attacks is a full 25 points lower than the industry average.

The blunder that wasn't: Norton source code released

It sounds scary on the surface: Groups of rogue hackers managed to get the source code for one of Symantec's popular Norton security utilities, then dumped the code on Pirate Bay for the world to dissect. Oh, noes! Now, nothing can stop the bad guys from running willy-nilly past the defenses that comes preinstalled on gajillions (approximately) of boxed systems sold throughout the world--right?

Wrong. The source code belonged to Norton Utilities products released in 2006, you see, and Symantec's current products have since been rebuilt from the ground up, with no common code shared between the two. In other words, the 2006 source code's release doesn't pose any whatsoever risk to modern-day Norton subscribers--at least if you've updated your antivirus in the past half-decade.


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