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The malware numbers game: how many viruses are out there?

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418
#1
The malware numbers game: how many viruses are out there?
By Ed Bott

April 15, 2012, 6:00pm PDT


Summary: How many distinct strains of malware are in circulation today? If you said hundreds of thousands or millions, you’re way off. A close look at numbers from one leading security company helps explain why some big numbers don’t tell the whole story.


How many strains of malware are in circulation right now, for Windows PCs, Android devices, and Macs?


That seems like a straightforward question, but the answer is far from simple. And the number might be a lot lower than you think.


If you check with the leading security companies, you might be tempted to pick an answer in the millions. After all, that’s how many listings you’ll find in the definition files for common antivirus programs. At day’s end on April 12, for example, Symantec published the summary shown below, noting that its latest Virus Definitions file contained 17,702,868 separate signatures.





Oh my. 17.7 million? That certainly sounds like a very big number. But before you get swept away, it’s worth taking a closer look at what it really represents.
Eight days earlier, on April 4, that same Norton/Symantec definition file contained 17,595,922 separate detections. With 106,946 additional definitions in a mere eight days, you’d probably conclude that malware is out of control.


Because the Norton brand name is primarily associated with Windows PCs, you’d probably also assume that all of that activity was aimed at the Windows platform.


And you’d be wrong in both cases.

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ilikefree

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#2
Well that's good to read. Puts your mind at ease a bit. Only 720 out there.
 

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418
#3
I wouldn't go specifically by any number since this report is based solely on one company's own data base. The 720 count is wrapped around the Android OS alone. That doesn't reflect totals for Windows and the other OSs however while illustrating how a small number of bugs have gone through some minor changes along the way.

On one laptop a new variation of a familiar fake ware was evident when the malware writer simply renamed the main bug slightly due to a much newer fake gui tossed into the mix. The coding only saw a slight change in that as well just to slip everything past the existing protections.

The most clever malwares are even fewer in number bowever from the typical trojan dropper, key logger, or rootkit as well as any other data miner. The actual total counts are off based on repeat counts on the exact same bugs all too often. Not as many as you might think but not counting the total number for all OSs either.

If in fact you get hit with some old bug that's been floating around the web for a few years you may think it's something new while not. On the other hand wait a bit longer and something new will be coming. It's all those inbetween repeaters that can throw the counts off.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Manufacturer/Model
    Custom built desktops =2 Toshiba replace HP laptop
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 975 Deneb core 3.6ghz
    Motherboard
    Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4
    Memory
    Kingston Hyper X 1.5v DDR3 PC12800 1600mhz 16gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    MSI Radeon HD 5750 1tb
    Sound Card
    Creative X-Fi XtremeAudio PCIe
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Asus 19" HP 20" second lcd main HP 20" remote pc.
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900, 1600x900 main - 1600x900 2nd desktop
    Hard Drives
    WD Black Edition 1tb Sata II -2
    WD SAS "Heavy Duty" RE class 2tb - 2
    External usb/eSata WD Black 1tb main -1
    External usb only WD Green Power 1tb -1
    PSU
    Corsair 750w 750TX main - Corsair 600w remote
    Case
    Antec 900-2 - SSD compatible eSata ports 2 - NZXT Vulcan 2nd
    Cooling
    Zalman CNPS9900A cpu, twin front 120s, top 200cm, rear 120
    Mouse
    MSI Interceptor D200
    Keyboard
    AZIO Ilumminated keys gaming keyboard/volume control usb
    Internet Speed
    30mbps upgrade

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