ICSA Labs Boosts Focus on Emerging Threats by Hiring Malware Expert and Security Innovator Roger Thompson

With the proliferation of smart devices, social media and increased online activity through app stores and other transaction-based websites, networks are vulnerable to new attacks -- some of which could impact national and personal security.

As a result, the security industry must work harder than ever to stay ahead of these attacks, which include Stuxnet and Dugu.  

To help with that effort, ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon that offers third-party testing and certification of security products, has hired Roger Thompson, a noted security expert on malicious codes, as the company's first chief emerging threats researcher.  

In his new role, Thompson will evaluate how evolving threats impact consumer use of new technologies, such as smartphones, tablets and social-media sites.

"Before software security vendors can design and build products that stay a step ahead of the bad guys, the security industry must better understand the behavior of the criminal element, Thompson said.  "If we can better understand how the people create malicious code to outsmart existing security products and why, then we can engineer products that offer better protection."

Malware Evolving Rapidly

Over the past 25 years, malware has gone through several phases.  The initial wave consisted primarily of viruses that were designed to spread rather than to cause harm, and the intent of the virus writers was to gain awareness for their clever creations.  The most recent wave of malware, however, was more opportunistic and criminal in nature, and was designed to create chaos among victims while generating profits for the criminal.  This wave continues, but has been joined by state-sponsored malware attacks aimed at espionage and disrupting critical national infrastructures.

Given the evolution of these threats, consumers, businesses and government agencies are looking for ways to reinforce their existing defenses.  

"We are poised to enter a new malware age that is highlighted by state-sponsored threats that are very dangerous, given their level of sophistication and targets, and that features digital sabotage and espionage as its hallmarks," Thompson said.

Thompson is a pioneer in combating malware.  In 1987, he created Australia's first anti-virus program, Virus Buster, after recognizing a trend in malware lifecycles: malware would be developed, released into the wild and then become extinct.  He saw this same behavior pattern reappear in the 1990s with MSDos viruses, which were eventually wiped out in 1995.  The emergence of a commercial Internet, however, became the next huge threat target, and remains so today.

About ICSA Labs
ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon, offers third-party testing and certification of security and health IT products, as well as network-connected devices, to measure product compliance, reliability and performance for many of the world's top security vendors. Visit http://www.icsalabs.com and http://www.icsalabs.com/blogs for more information.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 107 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with $106.6 billion in 2010 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 195,000.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.