This article on ZDNet (Oct. 24th, 2008) says that

Symantec will soon introduce a “reputation-based” software-rating technology that it has claimed can accurately differentiate malicious malware from legitimate programs.

“Reputation-based security is the latest and greatest technology in malware detection,” said Basant Rajan, chief technology officer of the IT security vendor’s India office…

“When seeking good food, we’ll most likely go to the restaurant with the most customers. That’s an example of a reputation-based choice in selecting a restaurant,” Basant said in an interview with ZDNet Asia, during his visit to Symantec’s Kuala Lumpur office.

“You just look at the behavior of people and make a decision based on that behavior. We can do the same with programs,” he explained.

  1. Is choosing a restaurant the same process as identifying malicious software?
  2. Does popularity equal high quality? (See Dilbert’s comment on mediocrity and “best practice”)
  3. On the other hand, if it works…

According to Basant, Symantec’s reputation-based approach assumes three distinct populations in its user base, which numbers in the millions. “You have one population that is ultra-safe, one that is adventurous and one that is completely unsafe,” he said.

OK, what’s the next stage, do you think? Choose from the list below, or add your own:

  1. The “unsafe” users will be tagged and blocked from an increasing number of websites due to their high risk of infection;
  2. “Adventurous” users will also likewise be tagged and be blocked from some sites they visit, or find they have to go through a laborious process of “security evaluation”, (including virtual-reality “body checks” for their avatars)
  3. “Safe” users will offered “fast-track access” to sites from which the “adventurous” and “unsafe” users will be either blocked or have to go through lengthy security checks to enter; this “safe” status will be linked to airport security and “no-fly” lists.
  4. “Unsafe” and “adventurous” users will be offered “fast-track” access if they agree to pay a premium and have customized software installed on their computers;
  5. “Unsafe” and “adventurous” users will find themselves on “no-fly” lists and subject to lengthy and embarrassing security checks wherever they travel; their phones will be bugged and their email scanned and categorized and tagged;
  6. Legislation will be passed criminalizing “unsafe” users and making them liable to financial penalties and to having certain software forcibly installed on their hard-drives.

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