February 7, 2006
Product Naming: Can We Stop The Spread of Virus Names?
The other day I got a warning about the Kama Sutra virus. Frankly, it didn’t seem like much of a cause for alarm. Don’t people know not to open funny attachments yet?
But imagine opening your inbox and finding a host of different warnings: one for Kama Sutra, one for Nyxem, one for Blackworm, one for MyWife, one for Kapser. How many people would even realize this was the same virus, rather than a massive bombardment?
Everyone from the virus’ creator to the anti-virus companies to the media seems to come up with its own name for every new threat. That’s where the Common Malware Enumeration Initiative comes in. The idea is simple: one virus, one name—at least for use by the computer security industry.
Unlike luxury autos (Audi Q7, for instance,) no one seems to want to call this virus “CME-24,” any more than they want to use the name that the virus creator came up with for the program. Despite allegedly backing the initiative, companies like Symantec, McAfee, Grisoft, and F-Secure continue to use their own names for the virus on their websites and when speaking to the media.
I think you'll agree there’s no denying that “Kama Sutra” and “Blackworm” are much more likely to attract reader eyeballs than “CME-24,” so it was never very likely that either the press or the public would go for CME nomenclature. But what about the software makers? Do they use their own names instead of the CME designation because they own those names in a way that they don’t own “CME-24,” or is something else going on here?
Are A-V software makers trying to make their products look better by choosing dangerous-sounding names for viruses? Or are they afraid of the competition? After all, as Joe Stewart of LURHQ Corp says, if everyone used the same name, it would be much easier for consumers to see which company responds fastest to new threats.
I feel whatever the cause, there’s no avoiding the conclusion that CME is fighting an uphill battle so far, and emulating the luxury auto brand nomenclature has not yet gained acceptance.
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