September 9, 2009

Voting Down the Malware, One Quorum at a Time

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When I finally managed to pull myself out of bed after an epic battle with the flue, an article on CNET caught my eye: Symantec Corporation, the maker of Norton Antivirus, is pursuing a new form of malware prevention that turns the self-mutating abilities of certain malware against itself. The new product is called Quorum. The best part of it all? It’s slated for release on Wednesday, which means if you’re sick with the flu and your computer happens to be in the same boat, then you can take the new program for a test drive.

Excellent products come at a price. The C-Net article reported the MSRP as $39.99, which is the same cost as Norton Antivirus 2009. There had been a beta floating around the Internet for a while, but it seems that Symantec has pulled it since each time I click on the link to visit the beta page, it redirects me to the Norton Antivirus main page.

So what exactly does Quorum do and what new features does it bring to the table? Well, for one, it collects data from individual users and then compares it to a database of collected data so that it can formulate a better pattern and avoid false positives.

Another feature that Quorum brings is the ratings system for downloads. Whenever something is downloaded, Quorum will first scan it against a database and declare if it’s safe or not. If the download is too new, then Quorum consults the number of users who have downloaded the file and warns the user about it, allowing the user to make his or her own decision about the file.

So how does this tie in with Symantec’s promise that it uses malwares’ ability to mutate itself? Simple, by consulting with the database provided by its users, Norton Antivirus 2010 can give you an early warning about a potentially dangerous file that you could be downloading. After downloading an unknown file, you could choose to rate it down. After enough negative ratings, it becomes classified as harmful and isautomatically blocked. The only issue that I foresee with Quorum is a possible slowdown in terms of download speed and irresponsibility on part of some users who may not be rating things down when they should. But overall, Norton Antivirus 2010 is looking to be quite a competitor against my preferred choice of Avast! antivirus.

Now, if only they could make a flu vaccine like this.