A group of anti-virus companies and software testers have formed a new body with the aim of providing consistent information about the effectiveness of anti-virus products.

The distribution of malware - including viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, and websites exploiting weaknesses in Internet browsers - is now being driven by organised crime for financial gain, and poses an ever more serious threat. Anti-malware software developers have developed methods to block these threats, but traditional anti-virus tests are becoming irrelevant because they don't take such methods into account, according to Stuart Taylor of anti-malware software vendor Sophos.

Last year, developers of anti-virus software called into question a batch of anti-virus tests conducted by independent organisations when showed their products failing to detect many security threats. At a meeting in Reykjavik last May, representatives of F-Secure, Panda Software and Symantec decided to design a new testing plan.

The creation of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO) is one of the fruits of that work. It brings together around 40 developers and testers of anti-malware tools, with the aim of hosting discussions about testing, publicising testing standards, and providing tools and resources for such testing.

Organisations present at the inaugural meeting included anti-virus software testers such as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.org, and anti-virus software developers including BitDefender, F-Secure, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, Trend Micro and Panda Software, which hosted the meeting. IBM and Microsoft also attended.