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Virus Bulletin news

Last chance to register for VB2015 with an Early Bird discount

10% discount ends tonight.

Today is the last chance to register for VB2015 with a 10% Early Bird discount.

Although registration is likely to remain open right up until the start of the conference, the ticket price will revert to the full price for standard registrations (US$1895 + CZ VAT) tonight. You might want to take this opportunity to save yourself or your employer some money. ( Student tickets remain available after tonight's deadline.)

Should you have problems registering, want to pay by bank transfer or would like to buy tickets that you can later have assigned to specific people, don't worry. Please contact us at We will honour the Early Bird Discount for all requests made before the deadline.

You can register online here. And while you're at it, why not check out the programme for the conference and the various added extras, including the 'Steganoprague' competition, the Small Talks stream and the second Péter Ször Award.

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Nominations opened for second Péter Ször Award

'Brilliant mind and a true gentleman' commemorated through annual award for technical security research.

During VB2014 in Seattle, we presented the first annual Péter Ször Award to a group of ESET researchers for their work on 'Operation Windigo'. The award was set up to commemorate of the life and work of security researcher Péter Ször, who passed away in November 2013.

Péter Ször contributed almost 40 articles to Virus Bulletin over the years, spoke at several VB conferences, and served for more than ten years on the VB advisory board. He was also well known as the author of the popular The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense -- a book which, for many, served as their first introduction to and basic grounding in computer security. Most importantly, he was known by everyone who encountered him for his great kindness and generosity.

Pierre-Marc Bureau, Marc-Etienne Léveillé and Alexis Dorais-Joncas with their award.

We are now seeking nominations for the second award. It will be awarded for the best technical security research published between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015. You can use this form to send in your nominations, or else do so by emailing

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VB2014 paper: Quantifying maliciousness in Alexa top-ranked domains

Paul Royal looks at malware served through the most popular websites.

Though VB2014 took place nine months ago, most of the papers presented during the conference remain very relevant. Paul Royal's paper 'Quantifying maliciousness in Alexa top-ranked domains' is no exception.

Large websites serving malware through direct compromises or through compromises of the ad networks they use (that being the subject of another VB2014 presentation) continue to make the news. Moreover, those serving the malware, typically through exploit kits, work hard to make sure that it isn't picked up by automated scans. For that reason alone, Paul's presentation is worth watching.

We have uploaded Paul's presentation to our YouTube channel. We also published the paper he wrote, which you can read here in HTML format or download here as a PDF.

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Latest spam filter test sees significant drop in catch rates

Despite a drop in catch rates, 15 products earn a VBSpam award, with four earning a VBSpam+ award.

Spam is notoriously volatile and thus, while we like to make the news headlines with our tests as much as anyone, we would warn against reading too much into the fact that the percentage of spam missed by spam filters almost doubled in the most recent VBSpam test.

In the test, which ran for 16 days in April and May, filters missed an average of 0.4% of emails -- up from 0.18% in February. Though these numbers might not appear all that worrying, very low delivery rates are part of spammers' business models. With a lot of spam containing or linking to malware, lower catch rates aren't just a nuisance.

Nevertheless, despite the lower catch rates, most products continued to do a good job of mitigating the spam problem. Fifteen out of 16 products achieved a VBSpam award in this test and four of them -- Kaspersky, IBM, ESET and SpamTitan -- achieved a VBSpam+ award for blocking more than 99.5% of spam, while blocking no legitimate emails and very few newsletters.

The VBSpam quadrant sets the spam catch rate against the rate at which legitimate emails are being blocked. Click here for a larger version of the graph.

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Throwback Thursday: KAOS on the Superhighway?

This Throwback Thursday, we turn the clock back to 1994, when KAOS4 was discovered on the Internet.

A new virus has been found on the Internet -- today, this is an unfortunate fact of everyday life, and unless the virus is particularly interesting, not even noteworthy. In July 1994, however, the discovery of KAOS4 on the Internet was big news and prompted the question: how great are the risks associated with Internet access?

KAOS4 gained notoriety through its posting to the Internet newsgroup Although, as a result of this method of distribution, KAOS4 became widespread, it was actually a relatively simple, non-resident COM and EXE file infector, designed to avoid detection by heuristic scanners. In September 1994, VB presented a full analysis of KAOS4 and took the opportunity to review some of the risks associated with Internet access.

VB's review of the risks associated with Internet access, 'KAOS on the Superhighway?', can be read here in HTML-format, or downloaded here as a PDF.

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