Symantec is not alone in this practice. Antivirus firm Avast is also cleaning up its database, which would have hit 3 million signatures this month without this effort, the company states on its blog.
"The main reason for this [work] is to decrease the size of our virus database updates sent to users around the globe," the firm says. "This will reduce the amount of transferred data, subsequently reducing the amount of needed energy and helping, of course, our forests."
While other antivirus firms are likely shrinking their databases as well, most seem to favor publicizing the large number of variants their analysts encounter. Unfortunately, the large numbers of variants detected by firms is generally used as a proxy for the level of threat online. Yet that is a misleading measure.
Given that many of these variants are created automatically on a daily, if not per-install, basis, the industry should start finding better metrics for threat.
This article, "Security firms cutting malware problem down to size," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.