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Antivirus firms, testers form standards group
Published: 2008-02-04

Nearly two dozen companies announced on Monday the creation of an organization to set best practices and standards for the evaluation of antivirus software.

As previously reported by SecurityFocus, more than 40 researchers met in Bilbao, Spain, last month to finalize the details of the group, dubbed the Anti-Malware Testing Standard Organization (AMTSO). The members of the group -- which includes antivirus firms, testing labs, and security companies -- create guidelines for the testing of software and act as a forum to analyze current anti-malware tests.

"As anti-malware solutions become more complex, many existing tests are unable to evaluate product effectiveness properly, resulting in product reviews that are sometimes incomplete, inaccurate and misleading," the group stated on its Web site. "AMTSO is focused on addressing the global need for improvement in the objectivity, quality and relevance of testing methodologies."

The founding of a group focused on testing standards comes 18 months after antivirus companies criticized independent 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.

The founding members of the group are ALWIL Software, AV-Comparatives,, AVG Technologies, Avira GmbH, Bit9, BitDefender, Dr. Web, Ltd., ESET, F-Secure, G DATA Software, Hispasec Sistemas, IBM, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Microsoft, Norman ASA, Panda Security, PC Tools, Sana Security, Secure Computing, Sophos, Symantec (the owner of SecurityFocus), Trend Micro, and Virusbuster.

"Traditional tests are become increasingly irrelevant as they fail to take into account the new technologies built into security solutions," Stuart Taylor, research manager for Sophos, said in a statement. "One of AMTSO's objectives is help drive better real-world tests for everyone, which will benefit all computer users looking for the highest level of protection."

The group is open to member from testing labs, antivirus companies, academia, and media reviewers.

If you have tips or insights on this topic, please contact SecurityFocus.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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