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Anti-virus suites still can't block Google China attack

Protection layer flunks independent tests

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Come and AVG a go

NSS' blog post on the tests includes a video illustrating how security software from AVG flunked the test.

AVG took exception to the exercise and posted a blog saying the tests were wrong. "AVG software stops the Aurora attacks just fine - in fact three different security rules of our software stop it," AVG argues.

The security firm, famous for its free-of-charge consumer security scanner, also criticised NSS for attempting to charge vendors for more information on how it ran its tests.

NSS responded to this post with its own broadside on Tuesday, defending its methodology and arguing that AVG's blog post showed the blocking of the exploit for surfers using Firefox - not IE - which is where problems arise.

Doing the business

Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, expressed concern that NSS tests were potentially misleading. Six of the seven tested products were designed for consumers, while the Aurora attack was targeting big companies, which use corporate antivirus products quite distinct from those used by consumers. Corporates have different protection layers (gateways, endpoint, etc.) but the NSS tests only looked at one layer of protection.

"A major issue is that product configuration is different, as the needs for corporate and consumer users are different, so a different result may be obtained depending on the product used in the test," Corrons explained. "For example, in a corporate environment it's common to block the http downloads of any packed file (malware is usually packed), but you'll rarely see that on a consumer product, as many games also use packers."

Moy acknowledged Panda had a point. "More extensive testing is being done on enterprise versions of these products and will be available to our clients in a few weeks," the NSS boss told El Reg. "We discussed the approach and testing with many of the vendors and other noted researchers with broad support for the initiative."

"The research was part of other independent testing work we were already performing when the Aurora attack became public. We performed and released the results to highlight issues that all endpoint security product users need to be aware of." ®

Updated

McAfee's software is not the only product capable of blocking Aurora at the first line of defence. F-Secure Exploit Shield, which is the part of the product that provides vulnerability layer protection, also thwarts Aurora., we're told. F-Secure's software was among the many products not tested by NSS.

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