Tuesday, November 11, 2003


BBspot - Symantec to Tag and Release Viruses  

BBspot - Symantec to Tag and Release Viruses: "Technology News
Tuesday, November 11 12:01 AM EST
Symantec to Tag and Release Viruses
By Kristian Werner

Cupertino, CA - Arthur Wong, Vice President, Symantec Security Response announced 'the next generation of security software,' with VirusTagging added to its Anti-Virus software. Both the corporate and home editions of the software will incorporate the new technology.
Also existing 'Scan and Deliver,' users will be able to 'Tag and Release' viruses placed in Quarantine. This places a unique tag in the virus's code, and then releases the virus, usually by sending an e-mail to a randomly chosen person in the users Outlook address book.
After the virus has been tagged and released, the program sends the information to Symantec Security Response. Wong stressed that no personally identifiable information was transmitted, only the tag, virus data, and key statistics about the system, such as operating system and applied security patches. The 'Tag and Release' option would be enabled by default, but could easily be switched off.
' The interesting part is when we find a virus that already has a tag,' continued Wong. 'Then we can find out what he's been up to.'
In biology and statistics, the technique is known as 'capture - recapture,' and is often used to discover the size of a population, for example a species of animal in a particular region. In many ways the virus hunter's job resembles that of the biologist- computer viruses are constantly moving, reproducing, and dying. Hackers could fake tags, or they could be lost. However in other ways their job may be easier, in that tagged viruses are no more or less likely to be caught than others.
So what is wrong with the old-fashioned way of simply removing viruses when they are found? "

This seems like a hare-brained idea at best. Now, if they could figure out a way for the software to trace back up the chain of infection and kill the source, I'd be impressed. Frankly, it looks like they want to use the PC population as lab rats.

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