Panda Floats New Cloud-Based Security Tool

Panda Security on Wednesday released a cloud-based antivirus solution in beta.

Panda Cloud Antivirus is based on a new protection model thatutilizes a thin-client agent and server architecture to process andblock malware. The product provides full protection from viruses,spyware and rootkits for free, according to the company, and does so with 50 percent less impacton PC performance.

The technology moves the entire malwarescanning and determination process to the cloud and appliesnonintrusive interception techniques to the client architecture. Theprocess provides protection against new and unknown virusesthrough the lightweight thin-client agent.

“You can’t put all those signatures intothe PC,” Juan Santana, CEO forPanda Security, told TechNewsWorld, referring to the multitude of malware instances currently in the wild. “Panda Cloud Antivirus represents a quantum leap in protection over the traditional approach to antivirus.”

What’s Different

Traditional antivirus products for PCs rely on multiple, locallyinstalled technologies to intercept each file at different layers. Thescanning is enabled for entry vector, file system and executionprocesses.

Traditional antivirus products scan these layers using antivirus,heuristics, intrusion prevention and behavioral analysis modules. Thisapproach process results in heavy usage of local PC memory and CPUresources, thus impacting the computer’s performance.

Panda’s new approach uses the thin-client agent for on-access,asynchronous cloud scanning. This strategy combines local detectiontechnologies with real-time cloud scanning to maximize protectionwhile minimizing resource consumption. The model blocksmalicious programs as they attempt to execute, while managing lessdangerous operations via nonintrusive background scans.

“Protection from the clouds is much better. Performance on thecomputer is not impacted,” Santana said.

Collective Intelligence

The company is counting on the free download of Panda Cloud Antiviruseven after the beta phase to build a database of malware activity.Panda’s proprietary cloud computing technology, called “CollectiveIntelligence,” aims to harness the knowledge of Panda’s global community ofmillions of users to automatically identify and classify new malwarestrains.

It takes the technology less than six minutes to scan each new fileautomatically received into the collective from users’ computers, according to Panda.Collective Intelligence servers automatically receive and classifyover 50,000 new samples every day.

Panda’s Collective Intelligence system also correlates malwareinformation data collected from each PC to continually improveprotection for the community of users.

Dual Methods

Panda’s technology blocks malware at the execution stage. Thataccounts for the economy of performance, Santana explained.

When users are not connected to the Internet, a local cache continuesto provide protection to the computer. Since 95 percent of allcomputers are infected only while connected to the Internet, there isno inherent risk when the cloud application is not available,according to Santana.

Panda Cloud Antivirus includes local and remote antivirus,antispyware, antirootkit, heuristics and goodware cache.

Offline Functionality

Not having full antimalware functionality when not on the Internetshould not be a concern, according to Dana Gardner, principal analystat Interarbor Solutions.

“The offline cache does quite a bit of checking,” Gardner told TechNewsWorld. “Something new canonly cause an infection when the computer is connected to theInternet. So that doesn’t concern me.”

The amount of added protection available while offline could be adistinguishing factor between the free version and theprofessional-strength paid version, he noted.

“It’s an innovative product. I’m intrigued by the use of the usernetwork to build the signature base,” he said.

Money Stream

Offering the free version is clearly a twofold strategy, according toSantana. One reason for doing it is to advance the name brand in theU.S.; the second is to ensure a maximum pool of users connectedto the Collective Intelligence database in the cloud.

“I haven’t convinced my board that Panda is a nonprofit organizationyet,” Santana quipped. “We aren’t as well known by less-savvyconsumers in the U.S. Offering the free version will help improvethat.”

Panda might resort to a limited list of features to give consumers areason to move beyond the free version, he acknowledged.

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