Lavasoft News - October 2006

Industry Questions Consumer Reports' Testing Practices

Security vendors are up in arms over Consumer Reports' "State of the Net 2006." Just days after the September issue hit newsstands, the magazine's anti-virus testing procedures were raising eyebrows.

Lavasoft's CEO, Ann-Christine Åkerlund, finds the testing practices of Consumer Reports "highly suspicious. We're keenly aware of the reputable anti-spyware programs and how they detect spyware. That is why we question how one program receives top ranking while Ad-Aware SE anti-spyware is ranked fifth, according to this Consumer Reports analysis."

Industry analyst, Mary Landesman, agrees. She takes on the Consumer Reports methods in her article, Testing Hocus Pocus, and also refers to the 5,500 new viruses created in order to support the tests.

McAfee AVERT's Igor Muttik posted a blog on the security company's website taking the publication to task for hiring a lab to design new virus variants. "Creating new viruses for the purpose of testing and education is generally not considered a good idea. Viruses can leak and cause real trouble," Muttik wrote.

Adware Report also criticized the technique, saying, "Basing test results on fabricated viruses is misleading. The testers claim that viruses are the "kind you'd most likely encounter in real life." However, they have no way of knowing this. There is no substitute for real-world conditions."

To rate anti-spyware software capabilities, CR used the public suite of Spycar scripts, whose own website states the product uses "tools designed to mimic spyware-like behavior, but in a benign form."

"It's not a serious testing tool," said Alex Eckelberry, chief executive of Sunbelt Software, whose product CounterSpy rated seventh on the list. "It (Spycar) is specifically designed to test how well anti-spyware programs block unknown applications, not (how they) scan and remove."

Consumer Reports defended its testing methods to Eckelberry in a letter, "We chose this approach because we felt it best captured the flexibility of the software."

Lavasoft did contact CR for a comment, but nothing had been received at publication time.

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Stats
Spyware infections prompted almost one million U.S. households to replace their computers in the first half of 2006.
-Consumer Reports, State of the Net 2006

The total loss from all cases of fraud referred to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2005 was $183.12 million, with an average loss of $424 per complaint. This is up from $68 million in total losses a year earlier.
-FBI IC3

This month's issue of Lavasoft News is being read by... drum roll please... 872,054 people.
Worm Graphic
Term of the Month
WORM - Did you know that WORM is an acronym for "write once, read many"? A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program, similar to a computer virus. Unlike viruses, however, worms self-propagate and so do not require other programs or documents to spread. Worms typically spread through e-mail or other file transmission capabilities found on networked computers.
 
Real Testimonial
Thanks for removing "VirusBurst" on my PC. I tried several ways to get rid of that low-down nag. Spybot had detected it, but wasn't able to kill it. HijackThis removed it - and it was still there. The next day there was an update for Ad-Aware. After this it was that easy!! No spyware, no virus. Good work. I appreciate your reliability.
R. Busch, Berlin, Germany, 25/09/06
 
Adware Trends
A new report by an online security vendor shows that in August 2006, there were roughly 450 "adware families", with more than 4,000 variants.
    Industry experts say that as the amount of new viruses and worms drop off, criminal malware is given room to rise. Spyware, Trojans and phishing are the cyber-crime of choice in 2006.
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