Qihoo 360 Antivirus tool stripped of awards after cheating

Antivirus software produced by Qihoo 360 has been stripped of awards by three leading security testers after it was found to have cheated. AV?Comparatives, AV?TEST and Virus Bulletin discovered that Chinese company Qihoo 360 submitted one version of its software for testing, but then released a different one.

The publicly released version of the software had a key virus detection engine disabled, resulting in a lower level of protection for users. As a result of the findings, the security testing bodies are not only revoking any awards given to the software this year, but also calling for greater transparency so consumers know what they are getting.

Qihoo 360's software included virus detection of its own and from BitDefender, but only its own was enabled by default. Testers conceded that in-program settings made it possible to enable all available engines, but in real-world scenarios it found that the majority of users stuck with the default settings. Qihoo 360 responded to the allegation by counter-claiming that Baidu and Tencent engaged in similar practices.

In a statement AV?Comparatives said:

Analysis of products submitted for testing by these companies turned up some unexpected flags within their products, marked with the names of several test labs and implying some difference in product behavior depending on the environment they were run in -- similar flags were also found in Qihoo products. However, no evidence could be found that this gave any significant advantage to either product, and in some cases it even seemed to put them at a disadvantage. Both firms were able to provide good reasons for including these flags in their products.

Qihoo 360 confirmed that a different version of its software was submitted for testing "including enabling detection of types of files such as keygens and cracked software, and directing cloud lookups to servers located closer to the test labs".

Maik Morgenstern, CEO of AV?TEST, said:

Comparative testing and certification plays an important role in the anti?malware industry, both for the users and the vendors. Users rely on independent results to make an educated decision regarding their protection software. If vendors start to manipulate the testing process, they are hurting everyone involved.

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