Panda Unveils Free Security Service

Widely known in Europe and Asia, Panda Security SL of Madrid is making a big play to make big bucks in the U.S. PC security market by offering a free service to consumers.

Starting today at www.cloudantivirus.com consumers can download a free "thin client" to their Windows machines that communicates with Panda servers online for the latest updates to fight the most current malware. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, it takes an average of 48 days for antivirus firms to release protection once malware hits the Internet.

Panda's CEO Juan Santana claims it can nail down new malware in just six minutes. He says that's possible because with more and more people using the Panda service and reporting back to its data center regularly detection is fast.

Panda already has 24 million malware signatures in its database, up from 17 million a year ago. And it gets 35,000 malware samples per day. With so many new viruses in the wild, it's not surprising so many users with the latest AV updates on their systems still get infected. Santana puts the portion of users infected with malware of some sort at around 24%, even though they have up to date AV protection. He thinks the new, free service can reduce that number to just 4%.

Despite keeping in constant contact with the Panda data center, Santana also claims the client uses about half the resources of traditional AV applications because the data center servers are doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

He says Panda will introduce enhanced for-pay services in the future. Also, Santana says there's no reason the service cannot be extended to other devices like smart phones.

While Panda is not as well known as McAfee or Symantec to IT or consumers in the U.S., the company's boss is betting that won't last long as people migrate to what he says is a superior way to fight malware.

"Plus," he adds, "we're lowering the switching costs to zero."

Indeed, nothing beats free during hard economic times. Come to think of it, nothing beats free during good times.

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