Chinese anti-virus vendor Qihoo 360 has been caught cheating on benchmarking tests by submitting versions running A-V engines from rival Bitdefender.
The company has been reprimanded by established testing outfits Virus Bulletin, Av-Comparatives, and AV-Test which withdrew its 2015 certifications.
In a joint statement [PDF] the AV testing outfits say Qihoo "cheated" by turning off its engine and flicking on BitDefender's, a setting state that is the opposite of what customers receive by default.
"According to all test data this would provide a considerably lower level of protection and a higher likelihood of false positives," the statement says.
"Options are provided in the product to adjust these settings, but as the majority of users leave settings unchanged, most tests insist on using the default product settings to best represent real‐world usage."
Heads of the three test labs say the cheating undermined the value of assessments.
A smarting Qihoo 360 pointed its finger at kit from rival Chinese AV firms Baidu and Tencent saying it contains flags that means it changes behaviour according to operating system and places it at an unfair advantage.
The three testing firms canned the argument since the flags are both legitimate and could disadvantage the AV products.
It is not the first AV firm to swindle test labs. In 2013, Armor for Android was accused of being little more than a Virus Total scanner with some fake malware scare prompts thrown in after it won acclaim across consumer tech sites for its low impact on performance and battery life.
The app appears to have since gone legitimate.
The value of anti-virus platforms has deteriorated over recent years thanks to advances in malware obfuscation techniques, with some security bods going as far to suggest use of the tools can increase security risks if users become over-confident about the true level of protection they enjoy. ®