2015 Recap: What happened in the Internet security scene and at Emsisoft
A letter from our CEO, Christian Mairoll:
When I started out collecting facts for this 2015 Recap, I had a look at last year’s edition. A frightening experience, like a deja-vu suddenly hit me: All major threats described in the 2014 Recap are still valid and very current for this year too, just the numbers have slightly shifted.
2015 – at the malware protection front:
- Threats and attacks increased in numbers as usual, but there are some general trends becoming more and more visible. Malware separates in two big groups:The first one is the “we want to convert your computer into a zombie and sell its computing power”-group. You typically won’t see any particularly different behavior from your computer when it gets infected. The malware sits quietly and well hidden in the core of your operating system and waits patiently for commands from its master. Common commands are e.g. orchestrated DDoS attacks together with tens of thousands of other infected computers to bring down a specific website or service; or using the hardware/computing power to send spam emails or mine Bitcoins. But here’s the good news: Several independent antivirus testing labs again confirmed that Emsisoft strengthened its place in the top league of providing efficient protection from all these threats.The second group of actors in today’s threat landscape is the “we will encrypt your data and sell you back the encryption password for a ransom”-group. Crypto ransomware authors became smarter, making less coding mistakes than before. Our lab was able to create decrypters for many common ransomware families last year, but the passwords of the latest families became near impossible to crack, as they are stored on (hacked) webservers that are usually not accessible for our research team. Though, on the positive side, our protection capabilities against crypto ransomware improved significantly throughout the year and we’ve made a name for being experts when it comes to ransomware. See how it’s done right: Emsisoft’s behavior blocker vs. 20 common crypto ransomware families.
- Viruses are now officially to be considered dead – until further notice. Our research in the most spread malware categories earlier this year revealed that only 0.2% of the total infections happen to be from viruses. A much bigger group of 14% Trojans/Backdoors/Bots/Rootkits is only topped by the 79% Potentially Unwanted Programs. These programs, often referred to as PUPs or PUAs, are not malware from a legal point of view, but are usually misleading and tricking users into bad purchases or slow down the computer with plenty of extra ads.
Emsisoft earned a reputation of being one of only a few anti-malware protection software providers who keep honest and ethical business principles high. Our research article “Has the antivirus industry gone mad?” caused a great stir when we revealed that 7 out of 8 tested antivirus products come with unwanted bundles in 2015.
2015 – at Emsisoft
- Growth and money isn’t why we do what we do. From the start – 12 years ago – Emsisoft grew organically without any external funding and has by now reached a team size of 30. From being the underdog in the industry that nobody knows, we managed to become a respected small sized member of the industry who performs consistently well in independent tests such as conducted by AV-Comparatives and VirusBulletin’s VB100.
The 100% virtual structure of the company helps us to serve customers across all time zones. We are a truly international and multi-cultural team, working together as we would if we were in the same office. Instead of creating another short-living tech stock we aim for building from the ground up a solid long-term company that provides the best customer support possible.
- Major releases this year were plentiful. In May, Emsisoft Anti-Malware 10 and Emsisoft Internet Security 10 were released. They both came with serious scanning speed improvements. Version 10 series also shows that we’re serious about protecting your data and your privacy. We have created a new settings panel that provides access to various software options that may have an impact on your privacy. With Emsisoft Emergency Kit 10 we released the fastest portable dual-engine malware cleaning toolset on the market. It’s the ideal second opinion scanner and free of charge for private use. Just a few weeks ago, we have announced the availability of Emsisoft Anti-Malware & Emsisoft Internet Security 11. They mark a leap in protection technology and are not only the first native x64 editions of our software but also come with heavily improved behavior detection of ransomware and other current threats.
- Windows 10 was big in the news in 2015. Microsoft broke with their old habits and changed the Windows platform to a product-as-a-service model, which means the system doesn’t get outdated anymore. Just like with Emsisoft, you will always receive the latest software version via online updates, which is great for security. All the included cloud connections come at a price though: Privacy. Earlier this year we have analyzed the potential impacts of Windows 10 on your privacy.
Outlook on 2016:
- It may sound a bit boring, but next year we plan to do what we always did: Improve the protection level, make the product smarter and less intrusive, improve speed and reduce resource usage. We expect that exploits and ransomware will most likely continue to be the top threats, requring special attention.
- Another item high on our priority list is participating in even more independent tests to get as much feedback as possible on how to further improve our technology.
- We also plan to increase our efforts in building protection software for small- and medium-sized businesses and establish a world-wide network of local representatives so we get closer to you.
Rest assured, we don’t intend to rest on our success but continue to do whatever is necessary to keep hackers out of your computer!
Have a great and malware-free 2016!
Strong indications that ransomware devs don't like Emsisoft