PC 'security as a service' gains global cloud footprint with free Panda anti-virus offering

PC 'security as a service' gains global cloud footprint with free Panda anti-virus offering

Summary: Cloud computing's utility and power in everyday life reached a notable new milestone today with Panda Security's free PC security service.This delivery and two-way malware detection-access model makes a ton of sense, so much so that I expect we'll be soon seeing the cloud model deliver of more than PC security and anti-virus/anti-spam services.


Cloud computing's utility and power in everyday life reached a notable new milestone today with Panda Security's free PC security service.

This delivery and two-way malware detection-access model makes a ton of sense, so much so that I expect we'll be soon seeing the cloud model deliver of more than PC security and anti-virus/anti-spam services. The era of remote services for a slew of device support and maintenance -- of everything from cars to cell phones to home appliances -- is upon us.

Essentially anything that uses software and has network access can be supported efficiently and powerfully based on the Panda Security cloud model. Making the service free to home-based users is especially brilliant because it gains the Metcalfe's Law benefits of a valuable community to detect the malware, with the means to then sell the detection and prevention means to business and professional users. [Disclosure: Panda Security is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here's how it works, from Panda's release:

Consumers can download the free client protection product from http://www.cloudantivirus.com. ... The Panda Cloud Antivirus thin-client agent introduces a new philosophy for on-access asynchronous cloud-scanning. It combines local detection technologies with real-time cloud-scanning to maximize protection while minimizing resource consumption. This optimized model blocks malicious programs as they attempt to execute, while managing less dangerous operations via non-intrusive background scans.

Panda's proprietary cloud computing technology called Collective Intelligence, Panda Cloud Antivirus harnesses the knowledge of Panda's global community of millions of users to automatically identify and classify new malware strains in almost real-time. Each new file received by Collective Intelligence is automatically classified in under six minutes. Collective Intelligence servers automatically receive and classify over 50,000 new samples every day. In addition, Panda's Collective Intelligence system correlates malware information data collected from each PC to continually improve protection for the community of users.

Panda says the model demands a lot less of a PC's resources, 5% versus 9% for other fat-client AV software approaches. That means older PCs can get protected better, cheaper, and longer. Far fewer people will need to upgrade the PC hardware just to keep it free from viruses. It's about time! Poor security should not be a business model for sellers of new computers and software.

I'm going to try this service on Windows XP Home running on Parallels on my iMac Leopard. I'll report back on how it works.

As I said, I hope this model succeeds because it really is a harbinger of how cloud-based services can improve and solve thorny problems in a highly efficient manner that combines the power of community with scale and automation. This may go far in also dissuading the creators of malware because the bad things will be squelched so fast if a Panda model get critical mass that the effort is useless and therefore mute.

Panda Security, a privately held company based in Spain, could well see its services expand to include PC maintenance, support, remote and automated support, and even more SaaS applications and productivity services. I expect this burgeoning ball of PC services from the cloud ecology to become the real software plus services model. It will be very interesting to see which vendors and/or providers or partnerships can assemble the best solutions package first and best.

Incidentally, don't expect Microsoft to do this cloud-based security thing. It can't afford to kill off or alienate the third-party malware security providers by doing it all itself. Those days are long past gone. The third parties, however, can now stretch their wings and fly. And they are.

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Dana_Gardner.

Topics: PCs, Cloud, Collaboration, Hardware, Malware, Security

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  • What happens when the cloud is down?

    The underlying assumption is little to no downtime. Such an assumption is not a bad bet, but it's a risk you wouldn't have otherwise.
    • If you're on Windows then the odds are that you're f*cked! [NT]

    • most common threats cached

      When the Internet is down, or the cloud is down, your local copy has a cached version of the most common threat signatures. It won't protect you from the latest viruses, but hopefully you'd only get those when connected to the Internet.
  • Wow, I'm impressed! :-)

    [i]"Cloud computing?s utility and power in everyday life
    reached a notable new milestone today with Panda
    Security?s free PC security service."[/i]

    You can't have any high expectations of the platform if you
    consider antivirus protection from a web server "a notable

    Real security comes from within, a properly built platform
    which prevents arbitrary access to data. Properly built
    platforms include e.g. Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X, NOT
    • Why then 2 years running has OS X fallen in pwn2own

      Two years in a row OS X fell first and fell quickly. In the first contest, Windows fell due to 3rd party apps not to an intrinsic vulnerability in the OS itself. (one of those 3rd party apps was written by Apple)

      Miller (the winner) said Mac's are the easiest to hack precisely because the OS doesn't randomize memory locations and doesn't utilize execution protection (buffer overflow detection) the way Windows (Vista does both XP does just the latter) does.

      I've worked for two AV companies. Virus writers are opportunistic, they have a much better chance with Windows since it commands 93% or so of the share.

      Years ago a guy was so confident in OS X he put a server outside a firewall (fully patched and supposedly fully secure). It fell in 30 minutes.

      When I was running Ubuntu I seemingly got updates (security) much more frequently than I did in Windows.

      Don't get me wrong but I seriously doubt Linux is intrinsically that much more secure. It has other advantages in comparison to Windows (less rebooting due to updates).

      The biggest security problem for Windows has been the users. Everyone running as Admin and lot's of people who have no clue of what emails to open or what links not to click on. Or what the difference is in passwords: sonny and DonnieDude4237 or WEP vs WPA2 Many have no concept of security at all.

      Linux users tend to be more savvy in general and naturally do a better job of securing themselves.
      • Inconsequential

        I suppose a few suckers will listen to that kind of BS but computing is
        evolving and moving towards Apple, OSS and smartphones anyway and
        we know Microsoft do poorly with their Windows Mobile with 7%
        smartphone OS share compared to e.g. Symbian with its 43% share and
        the iPhone with 33% share in February '09 worldwide.

        Things change fast sometimes and perhaps you and a lot of others
        should investigate your business options instead of writing drivel at
        • Is it? Here is a contest to see which stands up the best.

          And so far, OS X has fallen in hacker contests much faster than any other OS - repeatedly. An interview with the hacker indicates why that's true and why it will continue that way until Apple makes some changes.

          Inconsequential? And your arguments don't prove the contrary. All they say is that other OSes are more popular in the Mobile space. That say nothing about security robustness on the more desktop and servers, just popularity.

          Mobile devices are generally harder to hack because they use custom hardware, the tools are harder to get, and very often the apps do not have direct permission to access anything. They are dumb ed down. That's why generally speaking you can't play internet based games. That's why most mobile devices have no firewall. There just aren't as many ways to hack them. I'm not saying they can't be hacked. I am saying it is harder to hack them and even if you do compromise one you are limited to the impact you can have - try creating a bot server :). So mobile devices are not generally that interesting to most hackers. So the popularity of Linux or OS-X on iPhone really doesn't change much.

          The desktop and server are very open systems by design, they can be easily customized. Securing them is more complex. And the rewards are better if you do compromise them.
          • Real world vs prepared contest

            What has the flaws used in the contest costed the world's IT users?
            Yes that's right precisely $0, and this is what matters, real consequences
            as in the many billions spent on keeping Windows in a usable state.

            In a sane world with more quality conscious consumers would Windows
            have been ditched many years ago, but dramatic changes are on the way
            now at least. People are buying and using more and more smartphones
            instead of PCs, the Microsoft hegemony will probably shrink or even
      • No longer an OS issue

        The "base" OS in Linux is very hard to hack. It is the add-on applications that create security issues. This was the case with OS/X at pwn2own. This is also the biggest issue for Windoze, as the OS has become much harder to crack.
        Roger Ramjet
  • RE: PC 'security as a service' gains global cloud footprint with free Panda anti-virus offering

    Call me a skeptic, but to me this sounds exactly like all of the other "fat-client" anti-virus products out there with the exception of the virus database living exclusively on the servers rather than a local copy on each client machine.

    So instead of using local resources (processor, RAM, HDD, etc.) that we have an abundance of we are using the network bandwidth that is more restrictive.
    • The signature file *is* the fat.

      The signature file *is* the fat.

      Let me explain...

      We have over 24 Million samples in our Malware Database. With the traditional model, you have a virus technician manually analyze each file and it gets inserted into our huge signature database which is then pushed back via the cloud to your PC. Now, the hard part is that the AV software has to scan each file on your system (lets say you have 100,000 files on your computer) against the entire database.... that's 24M x 100,000 files (!) That's a lot of fat! Instead we leave the 24M samples in the cloud to offset the resource consumption on your end and therefore we are able to offer a more complete protection without breaking your PC in the process. At the end of the day it leaves you with better protection and us with improved Malware Intelligence (a win/win if you ask me)
      • Something still doesn't add up here

        OK, but how can you possibly analyze/scan the 100,000 files on my computer without uploading them to your cloud for analysis?
        • It's complicated to explain without getting overly technical

          It's complicated to explain without getting overly technical, but basically all we need is behavioral traces and some additional metadata to identify new malware strains based on our past 20 years of knowledge in near real time. BTW, This is a system that has been developed and used in production since 2006.
          • I smell a lot of BS here....

            Could it possibly be the $$$ speaking as usual? Nah...
          • Really?

            Panda has been in business for 20 years now and developed the system over 3 years ago. I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for to "clear up the BS", but here is a technical explanation of part of the technology. http://www.virusbtn.com/pdf/conference_slides/2008/IsmaelBriones-VB2008.pdf
          • Cryptic and just marketing of course

            I'm an engineer but must admit it wasn't much I understood.
            What it all boils down to is lousy security in Windows and what goes
            in to the PC. Most of the threats I guess is from the internet, why
            something like a proxy which filters the content might actually be a
            good idea, maybe, unless of course Microsoft release a real and
            properly built platform, which I doubt.
  • free beta, not free service

    Their website, in the help section, mentions the fact that you will no longer be able to connect to the cloud once the product comes out of Beta, unless you pay.
    So, it's not really free. It's just a free beta.
  • RE: PC 'security as a service' gains global cloud footprint with free Panda anti-virus offering

    Dana, you should definitely update this blog to reflect that it only free during Beta - then must be deleted from your computer when full version released, as nasht00 stated.
  • RE: PC 'security as a service' gains global cloud footprint with free Panda anti-virus offering

    Nash, that's not true.

    This version of Cloud Antivirus will always be free even after the beta period.

    Once it comes out of beta there will *also* be a paid version but Cloud Antivirus will always be free!


    Panda Security
  • RE: PC 'security as a service' gains global cloud footprint with free Panda anti-virus offering

    Came across another product whose first 30 day usage is free including removal. After then one requires a paid version of the product, HitmanPro. Tried it last night and seemed to be something I will keep in my toolkit.

    However make sure that if working on someone else's computer that you don't expose your lan to viruses by attaching the infected computer to your router.