There has been a great deal of talk lately in the media about machine learning (ML). We've all seen the news clips of chess playing computers, self-driving cars, and emerging technologies like facial recognition, but what exactly is ML, and how does it work? As machines take on a greater share of control over our lives, it is important to understand what machine learning actually is, and more importantly, what it isn't. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI), and AI is a branch of computer science. In traditional programming, you give the computer an input - let's say 1 1.
Although Linux is a much more secure operating system compared to the more widely used Windows, it is not impervious to misconfigurations and malware infections. Over the past decade, the number of malware families targeting Linux has grown, but the total number of threats is still orders of magnitude under the malware numbers reported attacking Windows systems. This smaller number of threats has resulted in cyber-security firms paying much less attention to the Linux malware ecosystem than they normally do to its Windows counterpart. So it is to no surprise that some Linux malware families have only now been discovered after operating unseen for more than four years. In a report published yesterday by cyber-security firm ESET, the company details 21 "new" Linux malware families.
Antivirus software is struggling to keep up because the primary strategy on which it relies--signature detection--is based on the outdated assumption that the malware you saw yesterday will look the same today. Generally speaking, when a cybersecurity company sees a new type of malware, it will analyze and create a detection signature for that specific strain. Like the immune system recognizing a pathogen it has seen before, antivirus software uses these signatures to scan files for known threats. This strategy worked reasonably well when viruses were mostly made by amateur hackers. But in 2003, according to McAfee, we saw the first real for-profit malware and since then, the growth of organized cybercrime has brought forth a series of innovations that allow malware to rapidly change its appearance.
Over the past three months, CrowdStrike worked closely with VirusTotal (VT), and we are excited to announce the integration of our anti-malware technology as an additional scanner available to the VT community. CrowdStrike customers have enjoyed protection using this engine as one of many technologies integrated into Falcon Host for a while, but now it is available to any user of VirusTotal. If you have a Windows executable or DLL you are unsure about, you can now head over to VT and submit it to get scan results from over 50 anti-malware scanners, including ours. The results that our scanner returns are a bit different from what you will see from other engines. That is because CrowdStrike's scanner is the first fully machine learning-based engine in VirusTotal.
Many people think the Mac operating system, MacOS, is more secure than it actually is. This wouldn't be an issue if those people were all Windows users but many of them own Macs. Thomas Reed, the Director of Mac Offerings at Malwarebytes Labs, has written a useful and informative blog post that provides a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of security on the Mac. Reed examines Mac security in terms of myths and realities. The most well-known myth is that Macs don't get viruses.