Chinese Internet security provider Qihoo had to withdraw from antivirus evaluation tests conducted by three of the world’s most prominent testing labs. Researchers at Virus Bulletin, AV-Comparatives and AV-Test Institute found that Qihoo cheated by submitting one version of its products for testing, while supplying another version to customers.

Qihoo 360

Qihoo defends its products

The three prominent institutions have revoked all rankings and certifications awarded to Qihoo’s products this year. The security testing bodies said that the version made available to consumers offered “considerably lower level of protection and a higher likelihood of false positives,” compared to the one submitted for testing.

During the evaluation process, the institutions found that all the products the Chinese company submitted for testing relied on an anti-malware engine from Bitdefender. But Bitdefender was disabled in the company’s products sold in all of its key markets, including China. The consumer-facing versions were based on Qihoo’s own QVM engine, which lags far behind Bitdefender in terms of security.

According to China News Service, all the three testing bodies confirmed that the versions submitted for testing differed significantly from that available to users by default in terms of anti-malware engine configuration. In an official statement, the Chinese firm defended its products, saying that the evaluation standards used by all these institutions were outdated.

An opportunity for Qihoo’s rivals

However, Qihoo did not deny AV-Comparatives’ claim that it had submitted one version for testing and sold another version to consumers. The security testing bodies’ decision comes at a time the Beijing-based firm is expanding in the global market. In February, the company revealed that it had more than 100 million overseas users.

Security experts believe that the company was trying to obtain a lower rate of false positives by submitting the Bitdefender-based version for evaluation. Qihoo’s exit represents a huge opportunity for other Chinese antivirus companies to expand their international presence. Qihoo is expected to be adversely affected by this controversy because AV-Comparatives’ rating is widely accepted and authoritative in international markets.