A government standard for anti-virus software is still a long way off despite more than three years of negotiations, fear vendors.
The anti-virus producers, including the UK's Dr Solomon, want the government IT agency, ITSEC, to come up with a standard and have been negotiating with the body for more than three years. The prize for manufacturers will be listing of their compliant products in the ITSEC directory, which will help them win lucrative government contracts across Europe.
ITSEC claims that it is now ready to put the first products through its testing procedures and is waiting for the companies to come forward to be approved.
But Bryn Taylor, Dr Solomon's representative on the anti-virus committee, which represents the manufacturers, said there were too many issues to be ironed out before companies could put their names forward. "For a start the documentation on the standard is not complete and the information to be given to the independent organisations, who will actually do the testing, has not been seen yet," he said.
The second issue is which database of viruses would be used to evaluate the anti-virus products. The suppliers wanted a database to be maintained by the government but ITSEC ruled this out, saying that the government could not afford to pay a full time person to maintain the database.
Taylor said this meant anti-virus vendors were looking at a database in Germany to provide a neutral test of their software against any new standard.
Also at issue is the cost of getting the standard. ITSEC wants to charge #40,000 per platform which, according to Taylor, would mean another #40,000 each month as each anti-virus product was upgraded. "It could end up costing us more than #1 million a year for a single product and we have to work out if this is worth it," Taylor said.
Philip Streatham of ITSEC admitted there were a few minor issues to be resolved, but said the body was "open for business" and waiting for the first few anti-virus manufacturers to go through the process.
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