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Panda Malware Radar review

Verdict

A useful malware scanner that can provide an extra line of defence when you need it.

Review Date: 20 Jul 2007

Reviewed By: Ian Parsons

Price when reviewed: exc VAT for 1yr subscription per licence for 5 licences; £9 exc VAT per subscription for 251 licences

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Although we tend to be wary of internet-based systems that offer to scan your systems for malware, in this case the idea makes sense. The software's strength lies in its Collective Intelligence system, based on servers in a number of data centres. This collects information from a variety of sources, including Malware Radar users and other companies, in much the same way that some intrusion-detection and content-filtering systems do. This information is used to identify new threats and generate signature files for use in a subsequent audit run, which means every new run will use the latest available data.

As part of its auditing process, it not only scans files but also running processes for suspicious patterns of behaviour. Although some resident scanners offer this option, they can often generate false alarms, whereas Panda Malware Radar makes use of its internet resources and refers the pattern back for analysis. It will only generate an alarm if the pattern is found to be consistent with an identified threat.

The software doesn't simply scan for malware and report the results. It can detect rootkits and also examine each computer's OS and produce an analysis of possible vulnerabilities, such as an inoperative or out-of-date virus scanner or missing software patches. It provides intelligent information rather than stark warnings. When it detected "netcat" on one of our systems, it reported it as possible malware, but indicated it might be present legitimately, which it was.

Not content with simply finding and reporting malware, it also offers the opportunity to disinfect any affected systems. The software needs to load agents onto each system to be audited. The agents can be distributed and installed to each detected system using the distribution tool provided. Since most antivirus and antimalware software downloads new definitions and sometimes software at regular intervals, Malware Radar isn't inherently any less safe, as it does it all at the same time. The software agents remove themselves from each system when the process is over, and the reports can be downloaded to a local system for examination. None of the software's activities should cause any problems with installed scanners during installation or operation, and it certainly didn't conflict with our resident Kaspersky antivirus software. Reporting is comprehensive, and provides both executive summaries and detailed technical reports.

Although there are a number of companies offering antivirus and malware-detection solutions, Panda Malware Radar scores due to being completely online. Costs are comparable with other resident solutions, but several products might be needed to provide the same breadth of coverage. It isn't intended to replace resident scanning software but to complement it, providing an in-depth analysis based on the latest available information. Since its software is downloaded afresh each time, it would be useful in situations where the existing precautions may have been bypassed by the latest malware exploit, or by software introduced by a member of staff.

Given the growing numbers and sophistication of malware exploits, a system that offers to check for the latest of them without expecting you to replace your existing defences has to be worth a try.

Author: Ian Parsons

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