Security

Panda Security Expands Free Cloud Antivirus Protection

Panda Security blazed new trails in PC security when it launched its free cloud-based antivirus protection last year. Now, Panda Security is expanding the protection provided in the free version, and adding a Pro Edition with additional features and capabilities. Panda Cloud Antivirus delivers malware protection that small and medium businesses need, and the price is right.

Panda Security is expanding its Free Edition and adding a new Pro Edition of Panda Cloud AV.
Panda Cloud AV takes advantage of the cloud with Panda's Collective Intelligence technology. This innovative security model can automatically analyze and classify thousands of new malware samples per day, guaranteeing corporate customers and home users the most effective protection against Internet threats. Because the signature updates and scanning are handled in the cloud, Panda Cloud AV guards against malware with minimum impact on PC performance.

Our own PCWorld testing in the summer of 2009 was unable to give a comprehensive score to the free Panda Cloud AV because the service was still new and feature incomplete, and the Panda scanning methodology used in the cloud did not fit with the testing model used by PCWorld. However, our review did find that "Panda's app produced an impressive 99.4 percent overall detection rate."

In a press release announcing the updates to the cloud-based antivirus, Pedro Bustamente, senior research advisor at Panda Security, said "Since the debut of Panda Cloud Antivirus last year, nearly 10 million home users have selected the free service as their antivirus of choice. With today's launch, we've created two options for users, both featuring major enhancements that make safeguarding your PC even easier and more transparent. The Free Edition gives users the best basic no-cost protection available on the market thanks to Panda's cloud-based Collective Intelligence malware analysis technology, while the new Pro Edition offers more robust automated security capabilities and support at a very affordable price."

Changes to Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition include new configuration and exclusion options that allow customers to modify certain features like behavioral blocking and analysis to find their own balance between protection and performance. The new behavioral blocker function adds heuristic detection to guard against new malware and targeted attacks, and Panda added a feature to ensure malware attacks can not disable the Panda security software.

I spoke with Juan Santana, CEO of Panda Security, about the new Panda Cloud AV Pro Edition. Santana stressed that Panda felt it was important not to limit the protection provided by the free version, or remove any functionality in an attempt to "bait and switch" customers into buying the Pro Edition. Panda Security hopes that the additional features in the Pro Edition, combined with the value Panda Security is providing in the Free Edition, will endear customers and lead them to support Panda Security by purchasing the Pro Edition.

The Pro Edition primarily adds more automation and better support for $29.95 per PC. With the Pro Edition, customers get automatic and transparent upgrades--eliminating the need to manually reinstall Panda Cloud AV every time a new version is released. Panda Cloud AV Pro Edition also provides additional offline protection of hard drives and USB storage devices, and improved behavioral analysis that dynamically analyzes running processes and blocks any determined to be malicious.

Perhaps the most important feature customers get for the $29.95 cost of the Panda Cloud AV Pro Edition, though, is someone to call when issues arise. Panda Cloud AV Pro Edition provides 24/7 multilingual tech support. The peace of mind of having a support network is well worth the investment for many small and medium businesses that don't have the resources or technical expertise to deliver security support internally.

Businesses in the market for a solution to guard against malware should check out Panda Cloud AV Free Edition, and if the protection is sufficient consider investing in the additional functionality and support of the Pro Edition. Larger businesses may also be interested in looking at Panda Cloud Internet Protection, which provides more comprehensive security features and centralized administration.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com . He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW .

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