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InfoWorld - In today's Internet world, protecting end-user PCs from the unknown is one of the most important things you can do. No matter how a system is compromised -- be it a virus or a "drive-by" install of malicious code via a Web site -- there is no end to the amount of irritation and potential financial damage that the user or company might suffer. With most attacks zeroing in on identity theft, can you really take a chance?
The best way to defend PCs is to have some sort of antivirus and antispyware protection -- and real-time protection trumps traditional on-demand scans. Real-time antivirus protection has been around for years, but only recently have we started to see vendors roll out real-time analysis and detection of malware. Like its real-time antivirus counterpart, this approach ensures malicious code is stopped before it ever lands.
Among companies packaging real-time protection against viruses and malware is Webroot Software. The recently released 5.5 version of Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware and Firewall provides real-time and on-demand detection and remediation for virus and malware threats, and it boasts an easy-to-use user interface. Resource utilization is minimal, and in my tests, there was no noticeable slowdown while browsing the Web. This package is intended for single users or small office installations; there is no administrative console or central management. Business users that need more administrative tools should look at Webroot AntiSpyware Corporate Edition with AntiVirus.
The Webroot system comprises two separate yet complementary engines. Through its partnership with Sophos, Webroot is able to totally integrate Sophos' antivirus protection into its package, providing protection against all types of digital threats. New to this release is the addition of behavioral detection in the antivirus product; previously, only signature-based virus detection was available. Now even zero-day threats can be dealt with as the system monitors the overall behavior of the running processes and data streams.
I tested Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware and Firewall on a Windows XP Pro PC with 512MB of RAM (both packages are Vista-compatible) and carefully monitored system resource utilization during all aspects of my testing. Under normal operation during my tests, RAM usage averaged around 5MB and jumped up to about 90MB during full system scans. CPU usage during a full scan averaged around 25% with some spikes, but they were nearly unnoticeable when using the PC. The solution now supports Firefox in addition to Internet Explorer but is available for 32-bit operating systems only.
Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware uses a number of shields to define the type and level of protection offered by the product. For example, the Execution shield monitors and protects the PC against executing applications, while the File System shield looks at each read and write to disk for suspicious activity. In all, there are 17 different shields organized into five groups protecting the various portions of the PC's system.