What's the big idea? presented at Virus Bulletin 2002

by David Perry (Trend Micro),

Tags: Security

URL : http://www.virusbtn.com/conference/vb2002/abstracts/big_idea.xml

Summary : "
Anti-virus products have frequently been labelled `snake oil', `addictive models' and other punishing labels. We are also constantly bombarded with promises that portend to `end the computer virus as we know it'. We are told that this company, that product or the other operating system will obviate viruses forever. Some of this hyperbole is simply typical engineering speak. More of it is probably marketing. But I would like to call attention to a particular kind of `magical thinking' - thinking that I will refer to here as the BIG IDEA .

The BIG IDEA is a classic piece of magical thinking . It is led by the desire to simplify a complicated situation, and to fit a single theory around all the facts available. Many great minds have been shipwrecked on the reefs of a big idea. Einstein, at the end of his days was still working on his unified field theory. In the world of anti-virus software, we are looking at much more modest models.

In this paper we will chronicle some of the best examples of BIG IDEA products, theories and marketing campaigns in the decade and change that make up the virus era. We will pull examples from conference papers, marketing documents, package labels and interviews to show how much wishful thinking we have been carrying up to now. Most of the work done in AV research is work, but some of it is work down a blind alley, guided only by a BIG IDEA.