Leading anti-virus vendors unite to condemn latest security report

April 24, 1998 Sophos Press Release

A recent report on the effectiveness of anti-virus software has been condemned by Sophos and Dr Solomon's for causing unjustified scaremongering.

The BrownWright Report styles itself as an independent summary of a number of anti-virus product reviews across 6,301 viruses. The tests were conducted on unverified files from twenty websites claiming to have viruses for download. The report claimed that anti-virus products have "astonishing shortcomings."

Since publication, anti-virus vendors have been denied access to the virus samples which the BrownWright Report alleges to have been missed. The vendors have also been refused details of the websites used for virus downloads and the reports outlining where products failed. This leaves them unable to verify the report findings.

"Anti-virus vendors carry out verifiable quality assurance tests of their own," said Paul Ducklin, head of research at Sophos. "Tests such as those carried out for the BrownWright report only serve to encourage users not to take anti-virus testing seriously. Worried users are welcome to come and see our test methods for themselves."

"Virus exchange websites have consistently been an incredibly poor research source," warns Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Dr Solomon's. "Responsible thinking says that surfing virus exchange sites is to be discouraged as far as possible."