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Anti-Virus Software Needs To Be Put To Test

The magazine 'Consumer Reports' conducted a test on twelve leading 'anti-virus software' products to assess their capability to detect and react to new and emerging viruses. For this they asked an external firm to create new malware that will be treated by the anti-virus software.

The cost due to computer bugs confronts consumers by billions of dollars each year. The rapid spread of viruses and spyware is a calamity in the PC world in addition to costing huge amount of money. However, there are ways to get away from them.

In order to do the test, Consumer Reports created 55 viruses, which it put to test for anti-virus software. These viruses were made as slight variants of already existing ones. The malicious programs were changed just enough so they could evade detection by the anti-virus application. A tight security was maintained during testing, so the viruses were quarantined onto a CD. The computer chosen to be infected with the viruses was separated from other computers and the Internet server. The research was conducted in a real environment and the virus was deleted soon after testing.

The magazine proceeded with testing twelve anti-virus protection programs to check if they could identify and block new viruses. Huge differences in detection rates were discovered. Some products just scanned and were able to detect the viruses; other products took some time until the viruses got activated, while some could do neither. Although each program failed to eliminate the entire virus but some did well compared to others.

While the viruses created by Consumer Reports are not any real threat to companies or individuals, but their existence is still controversial. On this issue John Hawes of 'Virus Bulletin' reminded in a blog that the anti-virus community always strongly objected to the writing of new malware irrespective of the purpose. He added that as viruses were being written all the time, why should a responsible group want to add to the already excess stock.

The ability to understand future threats is essential to anticipate how anti-virus software will react to them so it can be hoped that benefits will outweigh the risks.

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