Vista’s arrival will not thaw Microsoft’s security misery, the CEO of Russian security company Kaspersky Lab has said in a chilly broadside against the software giant.
According to Natalya Kaspersky, the reason is pretty simple: Microsoft’s software has rarely been secure enough in the past and there was little to indicate it would be much better in the future.
In a carefully-worded but occasionally bludgeoning assault on the security ambitions of its larger US rival, Kaspersky said she had seen nothing to suggest that Microsoft would be able to dominate the anti-malware market with the same ease as it had been able to see off its operating system enemies. The tolerances were simply too small for a company that had already gained such a second-rate reputation for the security of its software.
"Microsoft still does not have a good reputation in this area. By default, Microsoft solutions are perceived as being insecure or full of security loopholes," she said in the sarcastically-titled Security from Microsoft – the door to a brave new world?
"Given this, I am afraid that Microsoft’s new anti-virus solutions may suffer the same fate; virus writers will create malware that is designed primarily to evade detection by OneCare," she said of Microsoft’s recent anti-virus subscription service.
As attacks go, this is about as close to hurling a metaphoric vial of Polonium 210 as it gets from the normally precise and measured Kaspersky. "It is claimed that [Microsoft’s] OneCare integrates better with the operating system. This is supposedly because OneCare utilises undocumented possibilities in Vista, whereas independent vendors are unable to do this. In fact, this is a myth."
The company was not geared up to respond to changes of the security threat landscape as quickly as its more nimble rivals. The detection rate of OneCare was also rated as lower than average by one independent test.
"I will risk making the following prediction," continued Kaspersky. "Microsoft’s anti-virus will improve its detection rates and take its place among its competitors. OneCare will offer good user features (something Microsoft has always been good at). However, OneCare is unlikely to become a leader either in terms of response time to new threats or in terms of detection rates."
Kaspersky’s confidence in going on the record about its US rival is well-founded in one important respect: a company based in Russia is in the right place to divine the nature of Internet crime, so much of which now originates in the countries of the former Soviet Union and its erstwhile allies.