Sunday, July 27, 2008

the ongoing n.runs saga

you my recall my previous post about n.runs... well, it seems i wasn't the only one who saw FUD as ryan permeh wrote on mcafee's blog about what n.runs was saying specifically about mcafee... now it seems that thierry zoller of n.runs has responded to the mcafee post, or at least he tried to...

he didn't do a particularly good job of it, however, as despite explaining that the graphs come from data gleaned from publicly available 3rd party vulnerability catalogs (something that was clear from their original press release and not in need of additional explanation), he didn't address the issue that ryan raised about not being able to verify n.runs' figures when looking at the raw data and instead mistakenly or intentionally mislead the reader into thinking that ryan was looking to verify the 800 figure (which was n.runs' own) when it was clear from his post that he was only trying to verify the figures that applied directly to mcafee and that were supposed to come have come from 3rd party databases...

thierry also denied making the claim and/or believing that running av makes you less secure in spite of the fact that an n.runs slide deck i posted about last november makes exactly that claim...

additionally, where ryan claimed there was no evidence of these vulnerabilities in mcafee's product being exploited in the wild thierry responds by saying that it's because of the way the vulnerabilities are reported - apparently ignoring the fact that being used in the wild means there should be malware samples implementing the exploit(s) and that mcafee should have seen some of these by now...

one thing that ryan didn't really bring up and so wasn't addressed by thierry is the absurdity of aggregating the vulnerability count across an entire industry (where the 800 vulnerabilities figure is supposed to come from)... it's not an actionable metric, it doesn't say anything about any particular product or vendor within that industry, and only serves to scare people... this is the kind of marketing that john mcafee (long absent from the company bearing his name) used back in the days of the michelangelo virus (have i just invoked the anti-malware industry's version of godwin's law?)... even if there technically are that many vulnerabilities across the product lines of the entire set of vendors in the av industry, it's an entirely pointless measurement...

and while we're on the subject of marketing, am i the only one whose noticed that dancho danchev has put rather a lot of effort into providing a platform for n.runs to spread their marketing message from? one might wonder if he were still as 'independent' as he claims to be, though a more reasonable explanation might be that his rather obvious anti-av leanings (he's frequently made disparaging insinuations on his blog in the past) have been kicked up a notch so that, given the obvious ammo this 800 vulnerabilities claim could provide to an anti-av agenda, he either doesn't care or isn't aware that it's a marketing message he's helping to spread... given a more recent post where he misleads by misusing terms that someone in his position has no legitimate excuse to mix up (samples != variants != families != signatures, so counts of one can't be compared to counts of another), this latter explanation seems all the more plausible...

3 comments:

Thierry Zolller said...

You are obviously biased. Regards,
Thierry

kurt wismer said...

that may be, but so are you... and between the two of us, yours is the bias responsible for spreading FUD...

kurt wismer said...

just to be perfectly clear, i am admitting to being biased... it is a bias born of skepticism - i don't trust companies, especially solution providers who try to tell me how bad the problem they're trying to solve is and therefore by extension how badly i need their solution... i see that as little more than a self-serving attempt to justify their own existence... because of that bias i've pretty much made up my mind about the whole 800 vulnerabilities issue...

i suppose i'm also skeptical of those who don't share that sense of skepticism (except for those unassuming souls who don't appear to have a skeptical bone in their body)...