Qihoo 360 to withdraw from int'l body's tests

2015-05-04 09:20Global Times Editor: Qian Ruisha

Antivirus firm says standards not reflective of local conditions

Qihoo 360 Technology Co (Qihoo 360) announced Saturday that it has decided to withdraw from evaluation tests conducted by security testing body AV-Comparatives (AV-C) due to a disagreement over evaluation standards.

Qihoo 360's decision came after a joint announcement released Thursday by AV-C, AV-TEST and Virus Bulletin, three well-known independent antivirus evaluation institutions.

The three institutions will revoke all certifications and rankings awarded to Qihoo 360's products this year after finding that the company submitted "products for comparative and certification testing which behaved significantly differently from those made available to its users and customers," according to a joint announcement released on their websites.

The three evaluation institutions found that all the products that the company submitted for testing had an anti-malware engine provided by Bitdefender, an antivirus software suite developed by Romania-based software company Softwin, enabled by default.

However, the Bitdefender engine is disabled in Qihoo's products in its main market regions including China, that instead use Qihoo's own QVM engine which "would provide a considerably lower level of protection and higher likelihood of false positives," the announcement said.

The three security testing bodies also confirmed that the anti-malware engine configuration that Qihoo 360 submitted for testing differed from that available by default to users.

Qihoo 360 responded with a statement released on its website on Saturday, indicating that evaluation standards used by AV-C and other antivirus evaluation institutions are outdated and too one-dimensional and do not reflect the different online conditions and behaviors in different countries and regions.

Qihoo 360 also denied it had cheated in the evaluation, saying that Qihoo 360's engine used for the evaluation was publicly stated in past assessment reports released by AV-C.

"We cannot accept that AV-C has suddenly raised doubts at a time when Qihoo 360 is accelerating to expand into the global market and when we have revealed recently that we have more than 100 million overseas users," said the company in the statement.

Qihoo 360 did not deny AV-C's claim that Qihoo 360 had submitted products with Bitdefender's engine instead of its QVM engine for evaluation.

Regarding the dispute, Zhi Shougong, a staff member of the after-sales support department at Beijing Jiangmin New Science and Technology Co Ltd, a local computer software company that develops antivirus software, attributed the mistake to Qihoo 360.

"Personally, I feel that Qihoo 360 has to some extent cheated in the AV-C evaluation," Zhi told the Global Times on Sunday.

Zhi speculated that Qihoo 360 was trying to obtain a lower false positive rate by submitting an evaluation version in which Qihoo 360 closed its own engine.

"Qihoo 360's latest move [of exiting from a product test launched by AV-C] will inevitably adversely affect its expansion in overseas markets since AV-C's rating is authoritative and widely accepted in the international market," Shen Zheyi, a research director at the Shanghai office of Gartner Inc, a US-headquartered information technology research and advisory company, told the Global Times on Sunday, "There are no similar high-profile evaluation institutions in China now."

Although Qihoo 360 criticized AV-C for using an evaluation standard based on traditional antivirus technology which is outdated, Shen did not think that AV-C and other international evaluation institutions will alter their evaluation standards and adopt a differentiated standard for China.

"Other countries will also require a differentiated and favorable stance if AV-C gives Chinese antivirus software companies this privilege," Shen explained.

"Chinese antivirus software companies need to accept a uniform international evaluation standard," Zhi said.

Qihoo 360's exit may be good news for China's other antivirus companies. "Qihoo 360's domestic rivals can take this opportunity to expand their international markets as Qihoo 360 will be adversely affected by this conflict," Shen said.

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