The Effitas team met Neil Rubenking several years ago when we shared a panel with him at a digital security conference in Puerto Rico, since when we have developed a strong working relationship based on mutual respect and shared interests.
Neil served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new. He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors.
In 1986, PC Magazine brought Neil on board to handle the torrent of Turbo Pascal tips submitted by readers. By 1990, he had become PC Magazine’s technical editor, and a coast-to-coast telecommuter. He has written seven books on DOS, Windows, and Pascal/Delphi programming, including the popular Delphi Programming for Dummies.
Neil is an Advisory Board member for the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO), an international non-profit group dedicated to coordinating and improving testing of anti-malware solutions.
In his current position as a PC Magazine Lead Analyst, Neil evaluates and reports on security solutions such as firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, ransomware protection and full security suites.
Our work with Neil
In order to assess these solutions, Neil needs an effective stimulus load i.e. malicious samples against which he can test products’ effectiveness. Counterintuitive though it may sound, it is difficult to find reliable malicious samples. AMTSO has a real-time threat list (RLT), but the list comprises threats that have already been identified by vendors.
Reputable publishing houses in the digital security sector are careful to ensure they use reliable and credible source material for their tests and our zero-day feed, which pulls in zero-day threats directly from our honeypots around the world, ensures that PC Magazine can access trustworthy product for its assessments. Effitas can be granular in its offering, providing specific, never-seen-before malicious samples rather than a blanket feed if required.
Our feed is useful for researchers as well as vendors; the latter are concerned with volume and recentness and whether samples are a global or local threat, whereas researchers tend to operate with specific needs in order to test or better understand a given peculiarity of a sample.
“I can’t rate an antivirus without doing as much hands-on testing as I can manage. For one comparison test, I challenge each product with a set of malware samples that I’ve thoroughly analyzed. But those samples are static (until I work up a new set), and serve more as a sanity check than anything. With the feed from Effitas, I have a chance to check each product’s ability both to identify and block malware-hosting sites and to detect malware that’s prevalent on the very day of testing. It’s a huge help.”