Microsoft’s Anti-virus Service – New Details

New details have come to light about Microsoft’s new anti-virus service. The details came from an executive at MS’s French headquarters, and feature information unconfirmed by US sources.

The anti-virus product will be a stand-alone package based on tools acquired from Microsoft’s recent acquisitions of GeCad and Pelican Software. The software will work in two ways: the first component will use a regularly updated virus definitions database to identify viruses by a unique signature.

This method is used by almost all anti-virus packages in the market today – each virus and its variants have a unique sequence of bytes that can be spotted by scanning memory and hard-drives. This method is only effective against new viruses if the database is updated regularly to feature newly discovered “fingerprints”, otherwise infection can still take place.

The second ant-virus measure scans for previous infections and provides a risk assessment for users. It’s not yet clear if the package will provide system scanning to halt suspicious behaviour, such as bypassing the operating system to write to disk or accessing email address books, which will prevent unknown viruses wreaking havoc.

Given that Microsoft estimates that two out of three computer users do not have up-to-date anti-virus software, this could be a very lucrative move. According to anti-virus specialists Sophos, 4,677 new virus were reported in the first six months of 2004.

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?