I hate paying for anti-malware software. It causes me physical pain to make out purchase orders for it. There are free tools like Clamwin and Windows Defender that do a pretty good job of keeping out the bad guys and most of us sit behind some sort of gateway device that can snag malware too. Free tools from Lavasoft or AVG work well, too, but these are really only licensed for personal use, so I avoid them on school PCs if I can. Of course, simply using Linux makes most of this moot anyway, but I won't start that discussion now.
That being said, lots of our computers go home with staff and students and many personal computers and devices make their way onto our networks. As Panda CEO Juan Santana noted,
"PandaLabs detected more malware in 2008 than the previous 17 years combined, representing a major tipping point for both consumers and the antivirus industry as a whole."
We can't afford the downtime associated with infestations from machines outside our controlled environments, yet it is often difficult to require users to purchase, update, and maintain expensive anti-malware suites (many of which are intrusive and of questionable value anyway). Enter Panda's new cloud-based antivirus tools.
Available as a free download at cloudantivirus.com,
Panda Cloud Antivirus protects you while you browse, play or work and you won’t even notice it. It is extremely light as all the work is done in the cloud.
While it's not clear from the minimalist website whether this tool will remain free once it is out of beta, it is clear that Panda's new software takes a novel approach to malware especially well-suited to school environments (and to the users who take their computers to and from said environments):
Panda Cloud Antivirus is truly install and forget. Don’t worry about updates, configuration or complicated decisions ever again.
According to PC Magazine,
[Since] new malware strains arising so rapidly it's no longer reasonable to rely on researchers to analyze threats. Panda's automated system takes about six minutes from the time it receives a new threat to the time it can identify and neutralize it. The more people use Panda Cloud Antivirus (or other Panda products), the more opportunities Panda will have to detect new malware.
Hopefully, to that end, this software will remain free. For now, I'm happy to provide Panda with data in exchange for a free, unobtrusive bit of anti-malware software.