This morning’s Observer column about the implications of the Flame virus.
The PC security business does offer a degree of protection from the evils of malware, but suffers from one structural problem: its products are, by definition, reactive. When a particular piece of malicious software appears, it is analysed in order to determine its distinctive “signature”, which will enable it to be detected when it arrives at your machine. Then a remedy is devised and an update or “patch” issued – which is why your PC is forever inviting you to download updates – and why IT support people always look pityingly at you when you explain sheepishly that you failed to perform the aforementioned downloads.
So the security companies are always playing catch-up, profitably slamming stable doors after the horses have bolted. Until recently, the industry has tactfully refrained from emphasising this point, and most of its customers have been too clueless to notice.
This cosy arrangement was too good to last, and a few weeks ago the industry’s cover was finally blown…