One of my favorite press articles on Authentium came out in August 2005, on the heels of a press release announcing that our computer virus definition database had passed the 200,000 unique entry mark.
In that press release, we predicted that computer virus databases would continue to double every year, and that based on the growth of detected threats, our malware database would pass the million unique definition mark by the end of 2008.
One of the journalists at TheRegister.com took our math and extrapolated it to show that by the year 2020, there would be more computer viruses than humans. It was a great piece. At the time, we all had a good laugh - it is always nice to be noticed by The Register, and the thought that there may one day be more computer viruses than humans was certainly a little absurd.
However, since August 2005, the rate of malware production has indeed continued unabated, and is showing for the first time the influence of automated variant creation. It isn’t growing at quite the rate predicted in 2005 - rather than doubling, we are seeing a 66% per year increase - but it is also showing no signs of slowing down.
Currently, as of 2030 EST Saturday Jan 13th 2006, the database stands at 368,700 identified examples of malware and variants. Assuming current trends continue, within two months we will hit the 400,000 mark - which means that the number of unique computer viruses is propagating at almost exactly the same rate as Moore’s Law - i.e. every eighteen months.
Back in 1991, the Authentium/Frisk F-Prot Professional malware database stood at all of 200 identified threats, most of which were highly visible, but did nothing particularly malicious. It’s a different story today.