Panda Offering Free, Cloud-Based Antivirus

Panda Security released the public beta of its Panda Cloud Antivirus today. The company claims this is the first free cloud-based antivirus thin-client. Panda Cloud Antivirus consists of a lightweight antivirus agent that is connected in real-time to PandaLabs’ Collective Intelligence servers. PandaLabs’ Collective Intelligence servers work to automate the malware protection cycle by collecting samples, analyzing, categorizing, creating detection and disinfection routines, and delivering protection to each node.

The local portion of the Panda Cloud Antivirus requires about 50MB of hard drive space and consumes about 17MB of RAM. By the time Panda Cloud Antivirus exits the beta stage, Pedro Bustamante, Panda Senior Research Advisor, hopes to lower the RAM consumption to 12MB.

By combining local detection technologies with cloud-scanning capabilities and applying non-intrusive interception techniques on the client architecture, Panda believes it can do a better job at protecting your PC than a traditional virus scanner. In a recent blog post, Bustamante claims Panda Cloud Antivirus detects more malware than traditional signature-based solutions because traditional solutions take longer to detect the most recent variants.

One of the benefits to Panda’s approach is that users don’t need to worry about updating signature files. In addition with cloud-based detection, Panda claims the time from detection to protection has been shortened considerably. According to Panda, it takes Collective Intelligence under 6 minutes to analyze and classify a new file that it receives.

Panda Collective Intelligence uses correlation to further improve the detection of new variants. By using information from different nodes, Panda Collective Intelligence can protect against new strains of malware by linking activity that has been detected in one of the nodes.

The downside to relying on a cloud-based antivirus is that when you’re without an Internet connection, you’re also without antivirus protection. Bustamante quells any worries about this by explaining that a local cache copy of Collective Intelligence is kept on the PC for these situations.

Panda Cloud Antivirus scans files in the local PC based on Collective Intelligence and its local cache copy. The software uses three different types of on-access scans to provide protection. An on-access scan is the maximum priority resident scan that is applied to files which are being executed or used. A Prefetch Scan launches an asynchronous local & cloud query on files that have a high probability of being executed. The Prefetch Scan will scan files “as soon as possible” without impacting performance. If a file is called to be executed before it is scanned, the file will be intercepted and an on-access scan will be applied. Finally, a Background Scan runs on files located on the hard drive while the PC is idle.

With its Panda Cloud Antivirus, Panda believes it has delivered a solution that will protect a user’s computer without impacting performance. To download Panda Cloud Antivirus beta, visit