SE Labs

Posts tagged 'false positives'

How to test for ‘false positives’

False positives are not all equal. Or always real false positives!

How to test for 'false positives'

Security tests ought to test for ‘false positives’. It’s important to see if a security product stops something good on a customer’s system, as well as the bad stuff.

Measuring the balance in security

Almost nothing in this world can be reduced to ‘good’ or ‘bad’ accurately. There is too much subtlety: what’s good for one person is bad for another. Someone else might feel neutral about it, or slightly positive or negative. The same applies when testing security products. It’s rare to get a straightforward good/ bad result.

An anti-malware product might block all threats but also all useful programs. It might ask the user frequent and unhelpful questions like, “Do you want to run this ‘unknown’ file?” Alternatively, it might let everything run quietly. Or prevent some things from running without warning or explanation. Maybe you want to see alerts, but maybe you don’t.

We look at how to put the nuance back into security testing.

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