The new versions of Kaspersky Lab's antivirus and Internet security software announced Monday feature a new interface, as well as the capability to undo damage caused by malicious programs.
The new products continue Kaspersky's hybrid approach to security by combining PC software with cloud-based services, the company's Senior Director of Product Marketing Peter Beardmore explained at a Web conference announcing the latest versions of Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012($59.95) and Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 ($79.95), which combines antivirus protection with Web surfing safeguards.
Incorporating cloud features into the products has especially improved the speed at which the company reacts to cyber threats, Beardmore notes.
"Today's threats really come on fast making most of their damage inside the first couple of hours of existence," Beardmore said, "So having a mechanism to deliver threat information on as fast a manner as possible is critically important."
However, Beardmore continues, the cloud alone can't provide sufficient protection, especially if a connection to the cloud in unavailable or if bandwidth problems enfeeble a cloud service's responsiveness. This is why Kaspersky has chosen the hybrid approach.
How that approach works can be seen in one of the new features in the company's antivirus software. The feature, File Adviser, allows a user to click on any file and pull up reputation information about it. That information is kept current with real time data pushed to the application from the cloud.
One of the most noticeable changes in the new versions of the programs is the interface. Users wanted a simpler interface, so that's what Kaspersky made. The new software uses a dashboard approach to make highly visible on the desktop the kind of basic information clamored for by Kaspersky's users -- whether any threats exist on the system, whether the software is running, and whether the database is up-to-date and the license is current.
At the bottom of the dashboard is a menu that scrolls left and right, as well as up and down, for quick access to the software's main features. Feature categories have been removed, Beardmore explains, to simplify user interaction. "Our customers told us we just want to access features we want with the click of a single button," he said. "We don't want to have to think what category it lies in."
The Windows "gadget" for the programs has also been modified to include more information. "We've expanded the gadget to be a mini-version of the user interface itself," Beardmore said.
What's more, the gadget brings security to the top-of-mind of consumers, he added. "It reminds them that the product is there. It makes them feel more enabled, more comfortable in their computing experience and is also a gentle reminder to be more careful online."
Another new feature in the programs is "system watcher with rollback," which logs system actions over a long period of time. They're actions that Kaspersky has associated with cyber threats. "By looking at those logs over a period of time, we can take a much longer term approach and a longer term view of behavior on the system that may be acting in a fashion that could either be or be cooperating with malicious software," Beardmore explained.
From those logs, some damage by malware to a system may be corrected, such as creation of new files, deletion of files, changes to the registry and changes to libraries. "Not only are we disinfecting the machine of the malware, but we're actually removing some of the changes or symptoms that may have occurred," Beardmore said.
Other new features in the programs include URL adviser, which flags search results as to whether a link may be safe, dangerous or uncategorized, and vulnerability scanning, which scans applications on a system for vulnerabilities and makes recommendations for patching them.