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Tests Show That Most Anti-Virus Solutions Fail to Solve the Real Problems Caused by Viruses

West Coast Labs Announce Interim Test Results

3/8, 1999

West Coast Labs has today released the Interim Results of a test of global anti-virus solutions which determined their success in both detection and disinfection of viruses. The results indicate that a significant number of solutions fail to disinfect despite, in many cases, claims that they can do so. The partial solution leaves users in a state of limbo � knowing that they have a problem but without the means to resolve it quickly and effectively using their anti-virus solution.

The latest test conducted by West Coast Labs is part of research which will be published in full at the InfoSec World conference in Orlando, Florida (March 15 � 17). The test shows that those developers who have signed up to and achieved the Anti-Virus Checkmark (Level Two) are able to deliver a comprehensive solution to their users while other developers who claim that they can disinfect cannot deliver the same level of service.

The Checkmark System tests and certifies security solutions to ensure that users achieve genuine security from the products they purchase. The Anti-Virus Checkmark Level One determines that an anti-virus solution can detect in-the-wild viruses (that is those which are actually causing infections in the real world as opposed to a developer�s private collection). The Anti-Virus Checkmark (Level Two) determines whether a product is able to disinfect in-the-wild viruses. Full details of the tests and products which have achieved the Checkmark are available via our web site (

"It is obvious that users want to have their machines disinfected," said Paul Robinson, Technical Director, West Coast Labs. "To deny them this facility is at once frustrating for the user and an abnegation of the developer�s responsibility to �solve� the problem. What is worse is where developers claim that they solve the problem and then don�t."

When users� machines are infected, adds Robinson, there is no point in telling them (as a matter of routine) to reinstall the software or use a backup document. In the real world, this is often not possible to achieve particularly where network systems have to be available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

"There is now little differentiation between the leading products in terms of their ability to detect viruses," says Robinson. "For all users but particularly corporate organizations, detecting a virus is of little value if the anti-virus software they are using is incapable of disinfection also. Vendors should be striving towards providing complete protection � detection and disinfection.


100% Disinfection

Command AntiVirus All items successfully disinfected 4.54 with update 3/3/99

InoculateIT All items successfully disinfected 5.00 + update 4.18

Norton AntiVirus All items successfully disinfected 5.01.01 with update 1/3/99

Partial or incomplete Disinfection Dr Solomon�s AVTK No disinfection for W97M.Class.D, W97M.Class.Q, W97M.Coldape.A, Tentacle.10634, W95.El Inca: Incomplete disinfection of Natas (boot sector), W95.CIH.1.2, W95.CIH.1.4 Version 7.93

McAfee VirusScan W95.El Inca not disinfected properly, Natas (boot sector) not disinfected 4.0.2 + update 4015

Norman Virus Control 11 file viruses not disinfected, 5 macro viruses not disinfected, all boot sector viruses not disinfected. Version 4.64

Sophos Sweep No file virus disinfection available. No or incomplete disinfection for 20 boot sector viruses. Trend OfficeScan No disinfection for W97M.Brenda.A, W97M.Class.Q. Incomplete disinfection for WM.Copycap.A, Nilz, Quicky.1376, W95.El Inca, Stoned.Azusa, Stoned.Standard.B 3.11b + update 507 Background

The Checkmark provides a clear and unambiguous indication of attainment of a relevant standard for users of computer security solutions. The Checkmark consists of a standard, a test and a certificate. The standard is a real-world, industry accepted test. The test may be carried out by West Coast Labs or by an accredited tester. The certificate is awarded by West Coast Labs. Several Checkmarks exist currently (or are imminent)

  • Anti-Virus Checkmark
  • Trojan Checkmark
  • Firewall Checkmark
  • Year 2000 Checkmark
  • UPS Checkmark
  • VPN Checkmark

The Anti-Virus Checkmark (Level One), conducted by West Coast Labs, tests to see that the products can detect those viruses which are actually causing infections in the real world.

The Anti-Virus Checkmark (Level Two) tests that a product can disinfect all viruses in-the-wild which are capable of being disinfected. The product must first pass Anti-Virus Checkmark Level One. This gives a clear and independent indication to end users of these anti-virus products that can be relied on.

This testing procedure is repeated at least every three months and if a product fails to preserve its level of detection, its Checkmark is suspended and even withdrawn if the manufacturer does not improve the product�s detection. This means that users can rely on Checkmarked products since the manufacturers are making a serious commitment to the quality of their products and that is being independently verified by West Coast Labs.

Users can easily verify that a product has a Checkmark by looking at the product box to see if it carries the Checkmark logo, by contacting West Coast Labs, or by visiting the Checkmark web site.

The Checkmark is the dominant global standard of effectiveness of computer security products.

Notes to Editors

For current Checkmark status visit our web site at

Contact: Paul Robinson
             +44 (0)1792 324000
             [email protected]