TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Recently, Yahoo disclosed a data breach from 2013 that exposed the personal information of a whopping one BILLION Yahoo users. This comes after Yahoo's announcement in September 2016 of a smaller data breach that occurred in 2014, which affected "only" half a billion users. Many users must be wondering how is it possible that their personal information was stolen if they have the latest antivirus software installed on their computer. The answer is simple: antivirus programs are intended to protect against an entirely different kind of threat and offer no protection in such cases.
To understand why installing antivirus software is no longer enough, let's talk about what antiviruses do and how they work. The term "antivirus" is used mainly because people are familiar with it, but these software products are intended to protect computers from all sorts of malware – Trojan horses, ransomware, viruses, spyware and more. Most antivirus programs work by downloading a list of "bad" files – flagged as malware – from the antivirus vendor and then scanning the computer on which they are installed. If bad files are identified they are quarantined, ensuring that they are no longer operational and that the computer is "clean." There are several problems with this method.
First - In many data breaches, especially the large ones you hear about on the news, credentials are not stolen from the user's computer, but from the computers of companies, including online services such as Yahoo or AdultFriendFinder, and "real world" businesses such as Home Depot and more recently, Quest Diagnostics. Even infrastructure providers, such as credit-card processing companies like WorldPay, get breached. In each of those breaches, credentials are stolen (though different types may be stolen in each case), which eventually leads to identity theft. Depending on the type of credentials stolen, the identity theft can take various forms, including hacking into the victim's e-mail account, credit cards or health care fraud. We may not like to admit it, but our personal data is stored by an incredible number of companies, and this is precisely why they are targeted by criminals. We can have multiple security solutions installed on our computers, but when the data isn't stolen from us, these solutions aren't enough.
Second - and this is less relevant to the Yahoo case – this system is not very good at catching malware. Modern malware has something called "polymorphism," a term that explains a simple concept: If bad guy A is using malware, the malware file will look a certain way. When bad guy B starts using the same malware, the malware file will look completely different. This means that the same malware will look entirely different every time, making the use of a blacklist pretty much irrelevant. Of course, most modern antivirus programs use more than a blacklist to identify malware, but regardless of what they do, malware detection rates are pretty poor. Bad guys can check whether their malware will be detected by any antivirus program before they launch it and change their code to ensure that it will not. Antivirus products attempt to compensate by discovering malware and preventing malware from infecting the computer in myriad other ways, such as analyzing the code of websites users surf to in order to identify and block attacks, but these are STILL not enough. Why? Because often, data breaches don't happen on the user's personal computer.
What should you do?
Find an active identity-theft detection system. LogDog, for example, turns your mobile phone into a personal identity-theft guard dog, continuously monitoring your online accounts for suspicious activity, alerting you immediately when such activity is found, and allowing you to take action and remediate the threat. Coupled with our CreditGuard service, which monitors cybercriminal circles for your credit card credentials, LogDog offers protection from identity theft, which antiviruses aren't able to identify or prevent.
LogDog is available for both iOS and Android. Get it now from the App Store or Google Play.
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