Panda Security has rolled out a public beta of a new cloud
-based antivirus offering that the company says provides advanced protection
against new and unknown viruses. Available for a free download, Panda Cloud Antivirus consists of a lightweight AV agent that resides on the user's PC and connects in real time to the company's cloud-based servers.
The goal is to offer consumers "a truly install-and-forget solution that delivers the industry's fastest protection against the newest malware with literally half the performance impact," said Panda CEO Juan Santana. "We truly believe that Panda Cloud Antivirus represents a quantum leap in protection over the traditional approach to antivirus."
A Thin-Client Approach
Panda noted that traditional AV products rely on locally installed technology to intercept files at different layers and scan them -- a process he said negatively impacts PC performance through heavy use of the PC's memory and CPU resources.
"In each layer, each object is scanned by multiple technologies, such as antivirus signatures, rules, heuristics, behavioral analysis, and so on," said Pedro Bustamante, a senior research adviser for Panda. "This redundancy of scans results in a degradation of user experience as the [process] ends up consuming a lot of valuable PC resources and impacting global performance."
Panda has redesigned the traditional interception techniques to work in a slightly different way to reduce the performance impact while concentrating on the important aspects of protection when needed, Bustamante said. "Panda Cloud Antivirus is the first antivirus based on this innovative protection model, which is based on two fundamental principles: Automatic malware detection and remediation from the cloud in real time, and the use of an ultra-lightweight thin-client agent," he added.
Panda's thin-client software combines local detection technologies with real-time cloud scanning to maximize protection while only consuming an average of 17MB of RAM. "Even as a lightweight agent, Panda Cloud Antivirus provides excellent protection as it applies intelligent interceptions and scans of the files on the local PC based on Collective Intelligence and its local cache copy," Bustamante said.
Collective Intelligence is an online system that automates the malware protection cycle, collecting new samples, analyzing, categorizing, creating detection and disinfection routines, and delivering the protection to each node in the system, Bustamante said. Tapping a global community of millions of users, the cloud-based system automatically identifies and classifies the new malware strains it finds in the more than 50,000 new data samples it receives each day.
The bottom-line benefit "of using cloud-based detection is that the time from detection to protection has been shortened a lot," Bustamante said. "It takes Collective Intelligence literally under six minutes to analyze and classify a new file that it receives," he said. By comparison, traditional signature-based solutions "take longer to detect the most recent, and therefore most dangerous, variants."
The immediate objective of Panda's beta release is to receive feedback from testers "on how the new protection model works under different scenarios in order to help us verify it as a valid model and adapt it to real life," Bustamante said. The ultimate goal is to release a commercial solution that helps "solve the malware problem by improving the user experience," he added.