Security Experts:

VirusTotal Starts Marking Trusted Files to Reduce False Positives

Major software developers can share their files with Google-owned malware scanning service VirusTotal to ensure that their products are no longer erroneously flagged as malicious by antivirus solutions.

As VirusTotal has pointed out, false positives have a negative impact on the security industry, software developers, and end users alike. Software development companies suffer when their customers are no longer able to use their programs, support teams are overwhelmed by complaints about the application not working properly, end users are not able to carry out their tasks, and the antivirus vendor’s reputation can be seriously affected.VirusTotal false positives

VirusTotal hopes to address the issue of false positives through a project called “trusted source.” As part of this initiative, major software vendors are asked to share metadata from their software collection.

“These files are then marked accordingly at VirusTotal and whenever an antivirus solution (mistakenly) detects them, we notify the pertinent vendor, allowing them to quickly correct the false positive,” VirusTotal’s Emiliano Martinez explained in a blog post. “Additionally, when files get distributed to antivirus vendors, they are tagged so that potential erroneous flags can be ignored, preventing a snowball effect with detection ratios.”

In case a false positive is detected, the text “Trusted source!” appears at the top of the file report, along with the name of the company that owns the software in question.

In order to make sure these reports are not misleading, the false positives are extracted from the detection ratio count and moved to the bottom of the list.

The “trusted source” project started a week ago and so far only Microsoft has shared its files. However, VirusTotal says it has already led to more than 6,000 false positives getting fixed.

The malware scanning service urges “very large” software development companies to share their files in an effort to reduce false positives. VirusTotal has highlighted that the initiative is not open to adware and potentially unwanted application (PUA) developers.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.