FireEye, AhnLab score low in lab test of breach detection systems

In an evaluative lab test, FireEye and Ahnlab each scored "below average" on their breach-detection systems (BDS) in a comparative group product test which was conducted by NSS Labs.

NSS Labs tested how well malware would be caught by the AhnLab MDS, FireEye's Web MPS 4310 and Email MPS 5300, the General Dynamics' product Fidelis XPS Direct 1000 , the Fortinet FortiSandbox 3000D, Cisco's Sourcefire Advanced Malware Protection, and Trend Micro's Deep Discovery Inspector Model 1000. NSS also tested for stability and reliability, and estimated the cost effectiveness of each product.

In the test results published today, NSS Labs gave the products from FireEye and AhnLab the bottom scores in this evaluation and an overall rating of "caution" to buyers. NSS Labs indicates the "caution" designation means products "offer limited value for money given the 3-year TCO [total cost of ownership] and measured security effectiveness rating."

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In contrast, the General Dynamics Fidelis, Fortinet, Cisco Sourcefire and Trend Micro BDS products all earned a rating of "above average" and "recommended."

According to the "Breach Detection System Comparative Analysis" report from NSS Labs, the AhnLab MDS had a 94.7% security effectiveness and the FireEye breach-detection systems had 94.5%, which placed them below the other vendor products tested which were said to range between 98% to 99.1% effective.

The test results indicate the lower score for AhnLab MDS arose in part because it "misidentified 7% of legitimate traffic as malicious (false positives)," plus detected only 94% of email malware, and 90% of exploits. It detected 100% of HTTP malware.

The FireEye MPS had a zero false positive rate as tested, but only detected 93% of exploits, 96% of email malware, and 95% of HTTP malware.

NSS Labs makes its extensive technical and price comparisons of products available under subscription.

"Our product's efficacy is proven by how well we protect customers in real-world deployments.  In 2013, FireEye found 11 of 13 exploitable zero day vulnerabilities, tracked more than 40 million callbacks, nearly 300 separate APT campaigns and uncovered numerous new malware families and espionage campaigns. Any lab test is fundamentally unable to replicate the targeted, advanced attacks launched by sophisticated criminal networks and nation-states. The best way to evaluate FireEye is for an organization to deploy our technology in their own environment and they will understand why we are the market leader in stopping advanced attacks,"said  Dave Merkel, CTO.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

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