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Anti-malware testing group release standards
Published: 2008-11-11

A coalition of security-software companies, testing firms and information-technology publications issued on Monday two documents setting out guidelines for testing antivirus scanners and malware defenses.

The recently-formed group, known as the Anti-Malware Testing Standard Organization (AMTSO), published The Fundamental Principles of Testing and Best Practices for Dynamic Testing on its Web site. Among the principles espoused by the organizations are open and transparent testing, the validation of test sample to classify their malicious nature, and verifying the statistic validity of the tests. The testing guidelines stress that any battery of tests must deliver reproducible results, recommends against the use of virtual machines and to define different levels of success.

"The documents are expressly designed to help new and current testers to create better tests," Roel Schouwenberg, senior antivirus researcher for Kaspersky Labs, said in a statement. "Ultimately, better tests will benefit everyone by providing more accurate information to industry professionals and consumers alike."

The Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization was founded after the industry voiced concerns about inconsistent test regimes and criticized certain tests as unethical. In 2006, many companies in the antivirus industry lambasted product tester Consumer Reports for grading their products' performance against test data that included 5,500 newly-created virus variants. The antivirus companies questioned the reasoning that led to a testing lab writing viruses, while other security researchers argued that it's reasonable to measure the performance of antivirus software against previously unknown threats.

More recently, security firm Trend Micro decided to forego a popular certification test, known as the VB100 test, after failing to pass, because it questioned the usefulness of the certification.

Symantec, the owner of SecurityFocus, is a member of AMTSO.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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