But by looking for vulnerability exploits rather than for payloads, argued Kristensen, security software could stop multiple pieces of malware with just one signature, essentially making a more efficient defense in the long run.
"If there's a vulnerability in [Microsoft] Office and someone is exploiting that in an Office document, you'll be able to block that attack with just one signature," he said, no matter how many different payloads hackers may try to load into a vulnerable PC. "It's a much better way, we think, even though it's somewhat more time consuming to come up with a vulnerability signature."
Although Secunia sells its vulnerability research and proof-of-concept exploits to legitimate security vendors, Kristensen maintained that was not the reason why the company tested the 12 suites. Instead, he said, the take-away should be to patch, patch promptly, and patch all software, not just the operating system.
"Security software alone isn't sufficient" to protect a PC," Kristensen said. "People need to patch all their programs. Patching is absolutely necessary, and not just the main programs, but third-party software as well."
Secunia has posted a paper that describes its suite testing procedure and lists results on its site (download PDF).
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