Symantec, Trend Micro rivalry heats up over antivirus tests, new products

A spitting match related to antivirus product tests has erupted between Symantec and Trend Micro, as each Wednesday unveiled the 2011 editions of their consumer desktop antimalware packages.

The fracas is over the merits of antivirus product tests done last month by AV-Test and Dennis Technology Labs, with Symantec saying the tests demonstrate the superior strength of its Norton Internet Security 2011 over the dozen or so competing products tested, including Trend Micro's.

"We did better than Trend," says Dan Nadir, Symantec's director of product management, referring to the Dennis Technology Labs' "Real-World Testing Report" and "Remediation Report", which tested 13 products for how well they either defended against malware or removed malware from infected machines.

A third report from Dennis Technology Labs also shows Symantec faring better. Symantec is making Norton Internet Security 2011 Wednesday.

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However, Trend Micro, which Wednesday is introducing its Titanium 2011 suite with cloud-based defense, notes that the tests Symantec is referencing pitted Norton Internet Security 2011 against Trend's Internet Security Suite 2010.

Titanium 2011 is "totally overhauled" and "takes the front end as the cloud, with a fast client on the desktop," says David Perry, Trend's global director of education.

Trend already has this cloud-based reputation technology in its business security suites, but said it's added cloud-based defense to its consumer Titanium Security 2011, which comes in three versions. These include simple antivirus protection software called Titanium Antivirus; Titanium Internet Security, which adds spam blocking and parental controls plus an edition called Maximum Security that includes 10GB of secure online backup.

Perry says the level of controversy about antivirus testing in general is reaching a peak, with the credibility of all lab-based testing fiercely debated.

"Static tests are completely useless," Perry says, because the average PC and Internet user is being assaulted by malware downloads via the Web, which is where the majority of infections originate. "The average piece of malware is staying in circulation three days, some 15 minutes or less."

Trend Micro sees at least 220,000 malware samples per day as malware writers try to do anything they can to break pattern-matching, and Trend, like others, including Symantec, have turned to cloud-based reputation defense to augment older technologies such as pattern-matching.

Perry says the IEEE appears to be growing more determined to step in and set standards for malware nomenclature, measurements and testing, a topic that will be debated next month at the "5th Annual IEEE International Conference on Malicious and Unwanted Software," also known as Malware 2010, in Nancy, France.

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