AVG rolls out free upgrade

Free users get better web protection, while subscribers receive a new behavioural detection module

Security vendor AVG has beefed up its free antivirus package and expanded the behavioural detection abilities of its paid-for suite.

The upgrade will be made available today for users of AVG Free 8.0 and subscribers to the AVG Internet Security suite.

The existing AVG Free 8.0 package, released last April, already flags the results returned by search engines such as Google, warning users of potential danger before they click.

Now version 8.5 adds live scanning of visited pages, enabling the software to catch threats on sites that haven't yet been added to the company's database.

Version 8.5 of the paid-for suite also supplements existing signature-based scanning with a new behavioural detection module, using technology acquired in its buyout of Sana Security in January.

AVG calls this feature "identity protection", though it uses a general heuristic approach to malware and doesn't specifically seek to safeguard personal information.

"We chose Sana's technology because of its ability to differentiate good code from bad code," said AVG vice president Paul Burke, speaking to PC Pro this morning.

"That was one of the key things we really liked. It also has the ability to phone home, to check against a whitelist and a blacklist, to confirm whether an executable is known to be good or bad."

"And it's good at isolating and removing malware detected through heuristics. That's something that can be a problem, since typically when the malware is detected it's already running."

The company's small business security suite also receives an upgrade, in the form of server-side anti-spam. Burke noted that server-side protection was needed as email can increasingly be sent via mobile devices such as BlackBerries and iPhones, which may not be secured.

Though the identity protection module is a free upgrade for AVG IS 8.0 users, it will also be offered as a standalone package to run alongside other security software, for a small fee.

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