Google security engineers: antivirus scanners are pretty much useless

Google’s senior security engineer Darren Bilby has stated virus scanners are pretty much useless and that the advice users receive on safe internet use is “horrible”. Bilby made his statements today during a presentation at the Kiwicon hacking conference in Wellington, New Zealand.


During his presentation he called for “to stop investing in those things we have shown do not work”. Those things, are according to Bilby, virus scanners and intrusion detection systems. Instead he wants “security types” to focus on whitelisting, hardware security keys and dynamic access rights, The Register writes.

On antivirus products he Bilby stated, “antivirus does some useful things, but in reality it is more like a canary in the coal mine. It is worse than that. It’s like we are standing around the dead canary saying ‘Thank god it inhaled all the poisonous gas.'”

Also intrusion detection systems don’t really help, according to Bilby. He stated about that, “and sure you are going to have to spend some time on things like intrusion detection systems because that’s what the industry has decided is the plan, but allocate some time to working on things that actually genuinely help.”

He also added that advice on safe internet use is “horrible”. Bilby believes that educating users in not clicking phishing links and not downloading strange executables shouldn’t be required, instead hardware and software manufacturers should make their products secure enough to be used online, he stated about that, “We are giving people systems that are not safe for the internet and we are blaming the user.”

As an example he referred to the more than 300 vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash last year, he compared the strategy to patch those holes to “a car yard which sells vehicles that catch on fire every other week”.