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Panda Intros Cloud Antivirus Service

The majority of Panda's virus, worm, malware, and Trojan signatures are stored in the cloud, reducing PC processing requirements.
Panda Software Thursday announced the release of Panda Cloud Antivirus Pro, a cloud-based antivirus service, including support. The security company also updated its free Panda Cloud Antivirus software, first introduced in April 2009, which offers a subset of the Pro version's features.

New features in both versions include a dynamic behavioral blocker which helps spot and block malware -- even if it's not previously been seen -- as well as targeted attacks. The Pro version also adds automatic upgrades, automatic scans of USB drives, and hard drives to ensure they can't introduce a virus even if the machine is offline. Multilingual technical support is available via an online forum.

Both versions outsource, in effect, most of the processing required to identify malicious software to the cloud, by calling an online database run by Panda, which stores all of the firm's virus, worm, malware and Trojan signatures. Only a subset of these signatures get downloaded to or stored on an individual PC.

One benefit of outsourcing virus scanning to the cloud is that it's scalable, especially as many malware writers imbue their attack codes with the ability to change slightly each time they're used, the better to evade antivirus scanners. "The number of malware variants is growing exponentially while the number of computers infected by each sample is decreasing," according to the Panda Web site. "The gap between created and detected malware keeps increasing."

Moving signatures and some scanning to the cloud, said Panda, "reduces bandwidth consumption on customers' PCs and provides faster and more comprehensive up-to-date protection" than traditional antivirus scanners, which typically update their signatures daily. Furthermore, Panda said it benefits from this approach's crowdsourcing potential, which returns "statistical data about malware prevalence" back to the database.

From a bandwidth perspective, Panda said its cloud-based antivirus software only required a relatively small client to run on the PC. As a result, its antivirus software consumes about 15MB of RAM, or roughly one-quarter of what a more PC-based antivirus scanner typically consumes.