Feeds

False positives run amok in Vista anti-virus tests

Generic faults

High performance access to file storage

The first independent tests of anti-malware products on 64-bit Windows Vista revealed a rash of false positives.

Of the 20 products submitted for testing to independent security certification body Virus Bulletin, six generated false positives when scanning a set of known clean files.

As a result, the product failed to earn VB100 certification, a prized accolade in the anti-virus industry. The tests were the first carried out by Virus Bulletin on 64-bit Windows Vista anti-virus and anti-spyware packages.

Trend Micro submitted three of its anti-virus products, all of which falsely identified a Microsoft development tool as spyware. Other products to generate false positives were Fortinet's FortiClient, Ikarus Utilities, and VirusBuster, from the Hungarian firm of the same name.

John Hawes, technical consultant at Virus Bulletin, said: "The items added to our set of known clean files this month mostly consisted of common items taken from the 'most-popular' lists of free download sites, so it is a concern that the additions have caused such an upsurge in false detections.

"A false positive can cause as much disruption as a virus infection. False warnings often lead end-users to delete valid files in the belief that they are some form of attack and the resultant damage can be significant," he added.

Hawes blamed increased reliance on heuristic (generic) detection techniques for the rash of false alarms. "Anti-malware vendors must work hard to minimise false detections."

Other factors might also be in play.

Some anti-virus vendors complained of lack of access to the PatchGuard kernel protection system, as well as other security measures, included in the 64-bit version of Vista prior to its release. Opinions over the issue - even within the anti-virus industry - were sharply split.

Virus Bulletin reckons poor results of tests from anti-malware products on 64-bit versions of Vista suggest Microsoft's efforts at locking down the operating system have made life tougher for security firms.

Microsoft's enterprise anti-malware technology Forefront put in a strong performance and was awarded VB100 status for Vista x64 in the latest tests. By contrast, OneCare, its consumer anti-virus product, received a good shoeing after flunking Virus Bulletin's tests on 32-bit Vista products earlier this year.

Testing times

Virus Bulletin's VB100 test pit submitted anti-virus products against a test set of viruses from the WildList, a publicly available list of viruses known to be in circulation. To earn VB100 certification, products must be able to detect 100 per cent of the malware samples contained in the WildList test set while avoiding any false alarms in scanning a set of clean files.

Unlike other certification schemes, Virus Bulletin tests all products free of charge and does not allow re-testing. Virus Bulletin's comparative reviews also cover other performance aspects including detection rates against a selection of viruses never seen outside the lab of anti-virus vendors as well as looking at scanning speeds and performance overheads for anti-malware products.

The results of the VB100 certification of products for Windows Vista x64 Business Edition can be found here (free registration required). Detailed results tables are available to Virus Bulletin subscribers. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.