Today's practice of applying security updates after a software vulnerability becomes known or after a virus has been reported will be ineffective in a world of super-fast spreading worms and viruses, warned Symantec chief executive officer John Thompson.
A fresh approach and an armoury of security software and services are needed to combat "Warhol" threats, which spread across the internet and infect systems worldwide within 15 minutes, Thompson said in his keynote at Comdex in Las Vegas.
"These types of threats are fundamentally unstoppable by today's technologies. We will need proactive technologies that can protect and stop new attacks on the fly," he added.
Businesses will need multiple layers of security, starting with securing key applications, and intelligence in the form of an alert system, Thompson said. "The best way is to know about threats and vulnerabilities before they occur."
Thompson also criticised the various antispam laws that have been passed in the US, saying that such legislation is "unmanageable" and gives internet users "a false sense of hope". Instead internet service providers and the industry should take technological measures to block mass mailers, he said.
Thomson suggested security training for unemployed IT staff. "We will have a shortfall of tens of thousands security professionals in the next couple of years," he said.
One attendee at show said Thompson's speech was disappointing. The Symantec chief discussed threats, but his speech lacked concrete advice, said George Hallahan, of Integrated Datasystems, a computer sales and service point in New Hampshire.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service