News that Microsoft is preparing to release its free security software product, codenamed Morro, once again focuses collective minds on the whole anti-malware market place.
Morro is a basic anti-virus tool that is being trialled inside Microsoft with a soon to be released beta. Designed to beat the usual array of malware including viruses, spyware, Trojans and rootkits, Morro will be available free of charge.
Live OneCare, the poorly adopted predecessor of Morro, achieved a dire 2% market share after 2 years of Microsoft marketing efforts. Morro won't have all the features of Live OneCare, such as the PC Tune Up tool, as it is designed for the very low end consumer PC market. In the meantime Live OneCare will be retired to the great software grazing paddock in the sky by the end of June 2009.
Will Morro change the world? Unlikely.
Microsoft still appear to be adamant that they won't bake anti-malware into the operating system so, even though Morro is free of charge, users are expected to make the effort of downloading and installing it.
Other AV vendors appear to be bullish about the release of Morro, and see it as a minor irritation rather than a significant competitor. In reality this probably hides a lot of concern: if nothing else extra marketing budget will have to be diverted back into the consumer market to avoid Morro stealing market share. After all, when consumer budgets are stretched paying the mortgage they may feel less inclined to spend £50 on a renewed subscription to anti-malware which just slows down their PC for little (perceived) benefit.
Vendors at the higher, enterprise end have less to worry about as anti-malware is part and parcel of every sensible organisation's defence in depth security model, but they may be able to get some leverage out of the Morro threat.
Apple Mac users are getting less bullish about lack of malware attacks on their systems.
Reports have surfaced that Apple have finally admitted that their Mac OSX platform is vulnerable to spyware and viruses. Indeed the in-development and next-to-be released operating system from Apple, called Snow Leopard, will apparently ship with features to help protect against malware attacks.
Welcome to our world guys! And what an interesting one it is...
Research published in the eminently readable BERR 2008 Information Security Breaches Survey, published every two years, indicates that 98% of the over 1000 UK business interviewed had software installed that scans for spyware and 95% scan incoming email for viruses. So it would appear that UK Ltd gets the whole malware thing and is generally well protected. Of course, this is not too surprising as 84% reported that they were heavily dependent on their IT systems and any malware-related failure would inevitably cost them money and, maybe worse case, their livelihoods, especially the smaller businesses.
The real problem is down to the home and casual user that uses their computer to surf the web, social network and send emails. Various research indicates malware infection rates as high as 89% with the UK leading the way has having the highest percentage of infected computers.
This is no real surprise.
Educating professional computer users in the niceties of keeping their work PCs safe and secure is tough. Convincing Mrs Miggins from the pie shop that her PC, used to send emails to the grand children, is a cauldron of evil software is a whole different battle.
It's in all our interest for Morro to be successful with these users, because it is a lot better than nothing at all