How would you like a simple way to check and see if your anti-virus program is up to scratch? Well, the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO) has recently launched a free online service which provides just such a facility. The AMTSO service includes 5 tools to help users verify that their anti-virus protection is working and/or configured properly.
Even though I am pretty sure the checks are primarily aimed at commercial anti-virus solutions and not really meant for freeware editions, I was keen to test them out on my long time favorite free anti-virus. So I took the opportunity to put Avast Free through it’s paces and see how well it fared:
Test #1 – Success
Avast blocked the download and terminated the connection
Test #2 – Success
Avast blocked the drive-by download
Test #3 – Fail
Test #4 – Fail
Test #5 – Fail
So, Avast Free failed 3 out of the 5 checks. I’m not quite sure what to make of those results to be honest, especially failing the PUA test (#3). Although, if you read on, toward the bottom of this article you’ll see where there is evidence to suggest that many of the commercial anti-virus products may also struggle to pass some of these checks.
I also have Microsoft Security Essentials installed on a laptop so I decided to check MSE through AMTSO’s tool-set as well and see how that compares. The results were identical, with MSE passing the first two tests but failing the last 3. Although, to be fair, in the case of test #5, MSE doesn’t include any cloud-based detection feature nor does it claim to.
I found the following final paragraph included in each ‘Feature Settings Check’ window a tad misleading:
It appears to indicate that when you click on the name of the vendor, as directed, you’ll be able to view precise guides on how to enable/configure particular features. In reality, the links merely lead to each vendor’s home page. I am guessing this aspect is currently a work in progress.
Interestingly, AMTSO is reported to be encouraging anti-virus vendors to join them in ensuring their products meet the standards… “participating antivirus vendors agree that they will configure their product to detect specific harmless files or Web pages in the same way they would a malicious file. Fifteen major vendors have signed on so far, although not all support all the checks, and AMTSO expects more vendors will eventually come on board” … and that suggests to me that many of the commercial products may also currently fail the majority of AMTSO’s checks.
Anyway, it was an interesting exercise and one which I suspect many users might also like to go through. For those of you who are interested; it would be greatly appreciated if you could post the results for your particular anti-virus via a comment. Who knows, if we receive enough responses, it may help build a clearer picture for all concerned.
Access AMTSO’s anti-virus feature settings check page here: http://www.amtso.org/feature-settings-check.html