Netflix: Antivirus is dead

Posted 27 August 2015 03:55 CEST by Jan Willem Aldershoff

Video streaming service Netflix has decided to get rid antivirus software on the computers of its employees. The company didn’t renew the contract with the undisclosed antivirus company that protected the computers of Netflix staff.NetflixLogo


“It was three years ago we were doing a re-evaluation of anti-virus and out evaluation said that antivirus is dead, so we’ve been trumpeting that for years,” Rob Fry, Netflix senior security architect, told Forbes in an interview. Companies processing credit cards are often obligated to have virus scanners installed for compliance reasons. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) which has created the directive for online credit card payments even requires the use of such kind of software.

Netflix has now found a company that is able to provide protection that is PCI DSS compliant but that isn’t like traditional antivirus software. The software comes from Sentinel One which writes on its website that their product “stops advanced threats, and provides real-time forensics across multiple platforms.”

SentinelOne was founded in 2013 by security veterans from Intel, McAfee, Checkpoint, IBM and the Israel Defense Forces. The software is different from antivirus products because it detects malware based on its behavior instead of virus signatures which need to be continuously updated and are always behind what happens in the wild.

Netflix is currently working to phase out antivirus software from their office computers. “We did not renew our antivirus contract this year”, Fry said.  He especially criticizes the support of the undisclosed antivirus vendor, and according to him Netflix choose the antivirus vendor that “sucked the least”.

“The AV piece wasn’t even the most valuable thing, it was the URL filtering”,  Fry added, referring to the blocking of malicious websites Netflix staff were visiting whilst on the corporate network.

Although Netflix no longer believes in traditional antivirus, not everyone agrees.

“I don’t believe the era of anti-virus software is dead but that we need to evolve the technologies and other defences we use to properly address the variety and sophistication of the threats we face,” noted Brian Honan, security consultant in the Forbes interview.

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