Is antivirus software really ‘useless’?

Jonathan Riggall


Kevin Mitnick, the infamous hacker-turned computer security consultant, has claimed that antivirus software is ‘useless’ against today’s security threats.

At the IPExpo in London, Mitnick was talking mainly about company security, and that how it only takes one employee to make a bad decision, and open an infected attachment in email or over social media, for a network to be compromised. He claimed antivirus software would not be able to stop such an attack.

Is antivirus software really ‘useless’?

The ‘social engineering’ threat he describes requires hackers to research their victims, so they can design a fake message for that person, that they might be tricked into opening. During his presentation, Mitnick demonstrated how an infected file could pass through McAfee Antivirus without being flagged as dangerous. It’s worth mentioning that an on stage presentation isn’t the same as the real world, and we don’t know how realistic the demo was.

Mitnick was scathing about antivirus software including McAffee, Symantec and Kaspersky, describing them as ‘useless.’ On Reddit, many people are skeptical of Mitnick, saying he’s more interested in being in the spotlight and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Mitnick’s claim that antivirus is useless is certainly an exaggeration. An antivirus suite gives you protection about known threats, which are very much worth protecting yourself or your network against. No security system is perfect, but antivirus suites overall offer an excellent level of protection. No anti virus software can protect you against brand new or unseen malware, so you have to take a responsible approach to what you open in messages or emails.

We recommend using antivirus software – check out our analysis of the top AV Suites from 2012.

We’ve reached out to anti virus software companies for a response to Mitnick’s claims.

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[Sources:, Reddit]

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