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Third of XP security suites flunk tests

'Crashes, freezes, hangs and errors' blight VB run-through

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A third of 60 anti-malware products for Windows XP failed to make the grade in independent security tests.

20 out of 60 security products tested by independent security certification body Virus Bulletin flunked its rigourous VB100 certification, mainly because of false positive problems. False alarms in scanning benign files from major providers including Adobe, Microsoft, Google and Sun tripped up many of the products under test. Failure to detect complex polymorphic viruses also acted as a stumbling block during Virus Bulletin's largest ever test of anti-malware products to date.

Win XP security products from Microsoft, Frisk, Norman and Fortinet were among those who failed to make the grade.

VB Anti-malware Test Director John Hawes said the test team were also disappointed by frequent stability problems in tested product. "It was pretty shocking how many crashes, freezes, hangs and errors we encountered in this test," Hawes said.

"XP has been around for a long, long time now and is still the world's most widely used computing environment - so developers should be producing rock-solid software for it time after time.

"I'm sure any user who sees their system brought to a halt by their security software will vote with their feet and take their custom elsewhere."

Virus Bulletin's test looked at the performance of products as well as whether they reliably detected malware known to be in circulation without giving false positives on innocuous files, a key condition for achieving VB100 certification.

Summary results of the VB comparative review can be found here (free registration required). The full review is available only to Virus Bulletin subscribers.

Most security vendors submit products for testing by Virus Bulletin. Trend Micro decided to withdraw its products from testing two years ago after expressing reservations about Virus Bulletin's "outdated" methodology. Virus Bulletin has responded to such criticism by testing against more recently discovered malware samples in a move designed to better reflect the threat landscape. Thus far this has failed to persuade Trend to returned to the fold. ®

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