AMTSO, the anti-malware testing standards organization, opens up
Last year I voiced two main concerns about AMTSO, the anti-malware testing standards organisation. One was collusion in the false marketing impression given by claims of 100% test success against malware in the Wild(list). I won’t repeat my concerns here (see instead the original articles AMTSO: a serious attempt to clean up anti-malware testing; or just a great big con? and Anti Malware Testing Standards Organization: a dissenting view). Sadly, there has never really been any acknowledgement that this is a valid concern; nevermind any action on it.
The second concern is that AMTSO is effectively a closed shop: it is largely by the industry for the industry; and for that reason alone it cannot be trusted. This caused no inconsiderable heat, with some members of AMTSO feeling that I was saying that they personally could not be trusted. Others, however, accepted that it was a valid issue.
Well, I am now delighted that AMTSO has made serious attempts to address the problem. Last October it announced a new low-cost subscription fee in an attempt to get more people involved:
While AMTSO recognizes that strict requirements for full membership are necessary to ensure it achieves its objectives, it also understands that the fees put it out of reach for many interested individuals that may have a valuable contribution to improving the objectivity, quality and relevance of testing methodologies. Hopefully, the new low cost subscription model will widen the reach of the organisation and enable more people to have a say in the future of anti-malware testing.
Philipp Wolf, of AMTSO member Avira
This new subscription currently stands at €25 per annum. I don’t know how many subscribers it has attracted – but I doubt that it is many. “They will also have the right to attend meetings, though not as voting members.” Why should I pay money to have no ultimate say in things?
Today, however, AMTSO has launched an open (and free!) “forum where anyone may post and join in testing-related discussions.” Users are still unable to vote on AMTSO issues, but that’s fair enough. Discussions, like justice, should be seen to be done. Provided that AMTSO moderators do not censor this discussion forum (other than the usual legal requirements), it will “provide a discussion point where anyone with a question or an opinion on the testing of anti-malware software can make their voice heard.”
For that, AMTSO deserves to be commended.