Antivirus companies aim to set standards for testing

Anti-malware software companies have formed a group to develop standardized tests for their products

Antivirus software companies and software testers created a new organization Monday with the goal of providing consistent information about the effectiveness of antivirus products.

The distribution of malware -- including viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, and Web sites exploiting weaknesses in Internet browsers -- is now being driven by organized crime for financial gain, and poses an ever more serious threat.

Anti-malware software developers have developed methods to block these threats, but traditional antivirus tests are becoming irrelevant because they don't take such methods into account, according to Stuart Taylor of anti-malware software vendor Sophos.

Last year, developers of antivirus software called into question a batch of antivirus tests conducted by independent organizations when showed their products failing to detect many security threats. At a meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, last May, representatives of F-Secure, Panda Software and Symantec decided to design a new testing plan.

The creation of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO) is one of the fruits of that work. It brings together around 40 developers and testers of anti-malware tools, with the aim of hosting discussions about testing, publicizing testing standards, and providing tools and resources for such testing.

Organizations present at the inaugural meeting included antivirus software testers such as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.org, and antivirus software developers including BitDefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, Trend Micro and Panda Software, which hosted the meeting. IBM and Microsoft also attended.

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