Kudos to reader Jeremy Gilbert for writing in to let us know that Microsoft recently released version 2.0 of its free Security Essentials antivirus program. It was actually made available last week, but slipped beneath our radar since Microsoft dropped it on the down-low.
We included MSE in last year's security software roundup, awarding the program an 8 verdict for its lean footprint and capable scan engine. According to How To Geek, version 2.0 includes a revamped heuristic scan engine, network traffic inspection to protect against network-based exploits, and tighter integration with Internet Explorer.
How well do the upgrades work? We haven't played around with MSE 2.0 yet, but you can bet we'll address the new features when we do.
AVG, makers of AVG Free, the popular free antivirus program (as well as offering a selection of paid security software), announced on Wednesday that it scooped up Tel Aviv-based DroidSecurity, a cloud-based mobile security startup.
"The potential that exists within the mobile space is extraordinary, and we predict that devices like smartphones will overtake PCs in 2012," said J.R. Smith, chief executive officer, AVG. "AVG acquired DroidSecurity to accelerate our delivery of sophisticated mobile security and provide users around the world with the reliable and secure technology they need to confidently mitigate the risks associated with using mobile devices."
Not only does the deal underscore the importance security vendors are placing on the smartphone market, but the emerging tablet sector as well. With the proliferation of both markets, it's conceivable that mobile security could skyrocket in the next few years.
Once the deal is complete, DroidSecurity will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of AVG and will remain headquartered in Tel Aviv, AVG said.
Starting November 1st, Microsoft began making its free Security Essentials antivirus software available to Windows users through its Microsoft Update service, a move which has sparked outrage among at least two AV vendors.
"This will end up in action taken, especially in Europe," Panda Chief Executive Juan Santana told CNet in an interview. Santana went on to say that Panda "will monitor the situation," and Panda isn't the only one. Trend Micro isn't happy about the move either.
"Commercializing Windows Update to distribute other software applications raises significant questions about unfair competition," Carol Carpenter, general manager of the consumer and small business group at Trend Micro, told Computerworld last week. "Windows Update is a de facto extension of Windows, so to begin delivering software tied to updates has us concerned. "Windows Update is not a choice for users, and we believe it should not be used this way."
In a blog post on Monday titled "Microsoft just doesn't get it... Security is about diversity," Panda took things a step further in its criticism of both Security Essentials and how it's being distributed.
"Microsoft recently started installing its Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) free antivirus product via the Operating System update mechanism to computers which don’t already have an antivirus installed. Basically Microsoft is saying they are worried about the security of its users and they need to make sure they are protected... We agree with Microsoft; it’s better to have some protection than not having any at all. However the way the guys in Redmond are executing the idea is risky from a security perspective and could very well make the malware situation much worse for Internet users. That’s why we encourage Microsoft to continue using Windows/Microsoft Update but instead to push all free antivirus products available on the market, not just MSE."
You can read the entire blog post here, then hit the jump and tell us whether you agree with Panda and Trend Micro, or if competing AV vendors should 'leave Microsoft alone!'"
Panda Security on Wednesday announced the launch of Panda Cloud Antivirus version 1.3 with a new security safeguard against malicious websites.
Both Free and Pro editions now come with a URL and Web filtering feature to block suspicious and malicious sites before they have a chance to wreak havoc. And new to the Free edition are automatic and transparent upgrades, which was previously only found on the Pro version.
Citing a recent test (August 2010) by independent lab AV-Test.org, Panda Security says its AV detection software earned the top spot compared to other leading free antivirus programs with a 99.87 percent detection rate.
The Pro version runs $30 and adds a handful of additional features, including behavioral analysis of running processes, automatic USB vaccination, 24/7 multilinqual tech support, and no advertising screens.
Antivirus vendors went on the offensive when Microsoft announced it was dropping its Windows Live OneCare in favor of offering a free security suite, Microsoft Security Essentials. One year later and with 31 million installations now under its belt, Microsoft is free to serve up a slice of humble pie to the competition.
"It's been a busy year for Microsoft Security Essentials. As we observed right after the first week of release, Microsoft Security Essentials had already detected threats on over half a million computers," the Redmond outfit said in a TechNet blog post. "As Microsoft Security Essentials enters into its second year with over 31 million installations, 27 million of those computers have reported infections to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC)."
In other words, MSE isn't just popular, it's also working (you can read our review of Microsoft Security Essentials right here). It's also a global hit.
"The country with the most installations is the United States, but the next 10 countries with the most installs show that Microsoft Security Essentials has a global install base," Microsoft points out. "It is available in 27 languages – so language shouldn’t be a barrier to good security. Money is no problem, either – Microsoft Security Essentials is available at no cost!"
Back when Microsoft announced it was going to release its free Security Essentials antivirus program, some security firms scoffed at the idea that an au gratis solution could hang with fleshed out, non-free AV suites. Among them was Symantec, who warned that "if you are only relying on free antivirus" to keep your PC safe, then "you are not getting the protection you need to be able to stay clean and have a reasonable chance of avoiding identify theft."
Symantec made that comment over a year ago, and whether Comodo has been stewing over it ever since then, or just recently became aware of it, the company wants Symantec to put up or shut up.
"I read what Symantec has said about free antivirus products. This kind of misinformation is just unacceptable from companies like Symantec!," Comodo CEO Melih Abdulhayoglu said in a blog post. "Enough is enough!...You can't mislead end users with blatant lies like this!
"If Symantec truly believes what they preach to the media when then they will have no problem taking this challenge."
Hit the jump to see what the challenge is, and to read Symantec's response.
We know you would never click on suspicious links in your email or download unexpected files willy-nilly, but we're willing to bet you know someone that would. Now would be a good time to remind them not to do that sort of thing. According to McAfee, there's a new worm slithering through cyberspace that likes to chew on your AV software. Like most malware, this one requires a little help from the end user.
The worm is spread by email with a link to a seemingly innocent PDF file or raunchy WMV download, though users who click will get much more than they bargained for.
"When a user chooses to manually follow the hyperlink, they will be prompted to download or execute the virus," McAfee warns. "When run, the virus installs itself to the Windows directory as CSRSS.EXE (not to be confused with the valid CSRSS.EXE file within the Windows System directory). Once infected the worm attempts to send the aforementioned message to email address book recipients."
McAfee says it can also be spread through accessible remote machines, mapped drives, and removable media through Autorun replication. Once infected, the virus attempts to cripple and delete security services, including popular AV software like AntiVir, Avast, AVG, McAfee, Panda, and a whole bunch of others.
Look around your office and spot two other people. According to a new study by Symantec, one of you has fallen victim to some type of cybercrime, including viruses, identity theft, online hacking, online harassment, online scams, phishing, and sexual predation.
The study, titled "Norton's Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact Reveals Global Cybercrime Epidemic and Our Hidden Hypocrisy," pegs the victim rate of U.S. based surfers at 73 percent, one of the highest victimized nations in the world behind Brazil and India (tied at 76 percent) and China (83 percent).
"Are we just passively accepting our fate? No, of course, we feel extreme and varied emotions ranging from anger (58 percent) to fear (29 percent), helplessness (26 percent) and guilt (78 percent)," the study says. "Associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University Josepth LaBrie, PhD, describes a 'learned helplessness' for online victims. 'It's like getting ripped off at a garage -- if you don't know enough about cars, you don't argue with the mechanic. People just accept a situation, even if it feels bad.'"
According to Symantec, most victims never report cybercrime, and the vast majority don't expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice. One of the reasons for this is that most online crooks reside in foreign countries, which presents a challenge for law enforcement.
Let's cut right to the chase -- according to security firm Panda Security, the infamous Nigerian scam ranks as the decade's most popular online ploy to swindle victims.
"This was the first type of scam to appear on the Internet and continues to be widely used by cybercriminals today," Panda Security says.
Coming in second are lottery-based scams, in which potential victims receive an email claiming that they won the lottery. The ones that fall for it end up sending out something like $1,000 to supposedly cover bank related fees and other expenses in order to transfer the winnings, only the victim never sees a dime.
"As with all the classic scams that predate the Internet, many of the numerous users that fall for these tricks and lose their money are reticent to report the crime," says Luis Corrons, technical director of Panda Labs. "If recovering the stolen money was difficult in the old days, it is even harder now because criminals' tracks are often lost across the Web. The best defense is to learn how to identify these scams an avoid taking the bait."
Security firm Comodo is billing its upcoming "GeekBuddy" software as "your own personal geek, anytime." Summed up, that's exactly what GeekBuddy purports to be, offering a bonanza of tech related help, from virus detection/removal to email setup, and even optimizing your PC to run a little greener.
"GeekBuddy is the easiest way to get instant support with common problems which keep computers from functioning at peak performance," Comodo claims. "Our next-generation computer support service combines hands-on support with Comodo software."
You can think of GeekBuddy as a support service and software rolled into one. Comodo promises its technicians will be on standby 24/7 "to perform all problem diagnoses and repairs via a remote connection," giving users constant access to a technician to help with all those mundane tasks your family usually calls you up with in middle of the night.
GeekBuddy will ship in September with an estimated street price of $50/year, with a 30-day free trial available now.