Virus Bulletin Conference Papers (12)

Virus Bulletin Conference 2011

David Harley and Larry Bridwell: Daze of Whine and Neuroses (but Testing is FINE); Virus Bulletin Conference Proceedings, 2011. Copyright is held by Virus Bulletin Ltd, but is made available on this site for personal use free of charge by permission of Virus Bulletin.

According to Aerosmith (not to mention The Italian Job), FINE is an acronym for (in its politer version) Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. We could (and probably will) offer alternatives, but there’s no doubting that anti-malware testing inspires all those reactions. Sometimes it seems that AMTSO has become a dumping ground for the rest of the world’s misgivings about the AV industry, even though it originated in a coalition with some of the testers who are monitoring that industry’s performance with the most assiduous professionalism: indeed, that coalition has in itself inspired mistrust. And recently, it’s become plain that even within AMTSO, both testers and vendors sometimes find the alliance problematical.

AMTSO’s purpose is simple to state, but much harder to achieve. It represents a realization by professional testers and security vendors that the quality of anti-malware testing was so variable that it was at best confusing for people who need guidance on how to select the best product for their needs. Perhaps testing has improved more in the past few years than it would have without AMTSO’s presence, and discussions and generation of material in a single forum has accelerated a much needed move away from static testing towards dynamic testing. But it’s time to ask (and attempt to answer) a number of vital questions:

  • Looking over the historical evolution of testing before and since AMTSO, is that move enough to set the testing world to rights?
  • Are the aims of testers and vendors close enough to allow continued cooperation within AMTSO?
  • Has AMTSO already outlived its usefulness?
  • If not, what should it do next?
  • What is the future of comparative detection testing?

Small Blue-Green World/Anti-Malware Testing
ESET Senior Research Fellow

About David Harley

Musician/singer/songwriter; independent author/editor
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