Last November, a systems engineer at a large company was evaluating security software products when he discovered something suspicious.
One of the vendors had provided a set of malware samples to test—48 files in an archive stored in the vendor’s Box cloud storage account. The vendor providing those samples was Cylance, the information security company behind Protect, a “next generation” endpoint protection system built on machine learning. In testing, Protect identified all 48 of the samples as malicious, while competing products flagged most but not all of them. Curious, the engineer took a closer look at the files in question—and found that seven weren’t malware at all.
That led the engineer to believe Cylance was using the test to close the sale by providing files that other products wouldn’t detect—that is, bogus malware only Protect would catch.