Best free antivirus for netbook

Antivirus software run smoothly, almost transparently, on dual and quad core processors. Intel Atom processors for netbooks are dimensioned for basic browsing experience, even the newest generation of Intel Atom processors (Atom N450 and N470) didn't bring a significant performance boost.

The game will definetly change with dual core Atom (N550, coming up summer 2010). In any case most of the Windows based netbooks sold in 2010 will have a single core Atom processor, for this reason you should be careful in choosing an antivirus software, avoid antivirus that produce a heavy CPU load... you don't want to slow down an already slow system!

There are 7 free antivirus suites:

* Avast Free Antivirus
* AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
* Avira AntiVir Personal
* Comodo Antivirus Free
* Microsoft Security Essentials
* Panda Cloud Antivirus
* Rising Antivirus 2010

Only Avast, Avira and Panda antivirus are light enough to run on netbooks without significant system slow down while antivirus from Microsoft, Comodo and Rising resulted in a significant slow down of the netbooks.

A major problem with free antivirus software is the "slow" update rate: once a day for the free antivirus vs a couple of hours for most of the commercial antivirus programs.


New Exploit Resists Windows Security Software

A just-published attack tactic that bypasses the security protections of most current antivirus software is a "very serious" problem, an executive at one unaffected company said.

Last week, researchers at outlined how attackers could exploit the kernel driver hooks that most security software use to reroute Windows system calls through their software to check for potential malicious code before it's able to execute.

Calling the technique an "argument-switch attack," a Matousec-written paper spelled out in relatively specific terms how an attacker could swap out benign code for malicious code between the moments when the security software issues a green light and the code actually executes.

According to Matousec, nearly three-dozen Windows desktop security titles, including ones from Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, BitDefender, Sophos and others, can be exploited using the argument-switch tactic. Matousec said it had tested the technique on Windows XP SP3 and Vista SP1 on 32-bit machines.

Some security vendors agreed with Huger. "It's a serious issue and Matousec's technical findings are correct," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish firm F-Secure, in an e-mail.

Other antivirus companies downplayed the threat, however. "Based on our initial review of the public documentation, we believe this is a complicated attack with several mitigating factors that make it unlikely to be a viable, real world, widespread attack scenario," a McAfee spokesman said in an e-mail reply to a request for comment. "The attack would require some level of existing access to the target computer, as the attack described by Matousec does not on its own bypass security software or allow malware to run."

Kaspersky Lab had a similar reaction. "[We] have analyzed the published material and concluded that the issue is only linked to certain features of [our] products," Kaspersky said in an e-mailed statement. "Kaspersky Lab products implement not only [kernel] hooks, but a wide range of technologies, including secure sandboxing and other methods of restricting suspicious kernel mode activity."

Huger confirmed that attackers would have to drop malware of some sort on the targeted machine in order to utilize the argument-switch strategy, and that there are "lots of easier ways to game antivirus" than Matousec's technique.

Huger's greatest fear is that others take Matousec's findings, weaponize the argument-switch attack, and add it to one of the numerous underground exploit kits. "If someone packages this into an easy-to-use library, I think it'll be in play pretty quickly, with widespread adoption," said Huger. "Why wouldn't it?"

Several researchers with antivirus companies, including Huger, noted that security software isn't defenseless against attempts to use argument-switch, in large part because attackers would still need to plant malware on a machine, and on-demand scanning would theoretically block any malicious downloads, at least of known threats.

Huger expects that attacks using argument-switch will target 32-bit Windows XP machines, both because that operating system continues to dominate the Windows ecosystem, and because it lacks the PatchGuard kernel protection that Microsoft added to 64-bit versions of XP in 2005, then later to 64-bit editions of Vista and Windows 7 .

Microsoft faced resistance from several antivirus companies, notably Symantec and McAfee, before the release of Windows Vista. They complained that PatchGuard would prevent them from delivering key functions in their Vista-compatible products, including behavior-based virus detection, host-based intrusion prevention and software tamper protection. Microsoft relented and eventually made security application programming interfaces (API) available to allow vendors to do what they needed without accessing the kernel.

Those APIs first appeared in Windows Vista SP1 in 2008.

Matousec claimed that 64-bit versions of Windows boasting PatchGuard could be vulnerable in some instances. "[This] will work against all user mode hooks and it will also work against the kernel mode hooks if they are installed, for example, after disabling PatchGuard," Matousec's paper stated.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Matousec's claim.

Other problems security vendors face in blocking argument-switch attacks could arise if or when they release updates, argued Huger. "Kernel driver programming is pretty tricky," he said. "Redeployment [of updates] will complicate things. Any vendor nervy enough to put out new kernel drivers will have to do a pretty significant gut check. If something goes wrong, millions of machines could be blue-screened."

Huger pointed to the recent fiasco with a faulty McAfee signature update that crashed thousands of PCs running the company's security software as an example. "Enterprises would be very reticent to update because of the risk," he said.


Can the clouds really be secure?

Cloud computing has huge potential, especially as the Internet’s infrastructure improves and becomes more affordable. Its main attraction is the economies of scale it can provide us.

These were two of the conclusions Kaspersky, a rising security company, reached during its Executive Roundtable held last month. However, there are still lingering questions: How safe is our data in the clouds? And who can guarantee our mission-critical information placed in the clouds won’t be misappropriated?

These are some of the paramount prerequisites that will become the key to success of cloud computing.

For those wondering what cloud computing is, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has defined it as “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources [networks, servers, storage, applications, and services] that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management efforts or service provider interaction”.

In a now-conventional setting, we install an antivirus program on our PC or notebook. It may be AVG, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton or any reliable program. We then pay to subscribe to updates, which we hope will come fast enough to shield us from the latest malware. However, with our computing activities increasingly moving to servers located in “clouds”, will this configuration still protect us from unwanted viruses?

The answer is, of course, a resounding “No”. Therefore, it is not surprising to see antivirus makers rushing into cloud computing. Some of them are collaborating with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer a safer and more secure universe in the clouds.

Parents with underage children would no doubt be very familiar with this problem. When their children are alone in their bedrooms, they will be tempted to surf all over the Internet, sometimes to sites not recommended for kids. Parents usually know about it, but tend to avoid direct confrontation with their children. With iControl, parents can easily restrict their children from visiting adult sites.

Or, parents worried their children are spending too much time on Facebook can limit the time they can access the site.

Of course, some of these services have been available for a while on intelligent routers. However, the flexibility offered by services such as CBN iControl makes it easier to implement in a household as well as in companies.

In the office, if companies are concerned that complete freedom to access the Internet during work hours is likely to negatively affect employees’ productivity, then IT managers can customize access rights, helping them manage bandwidth usage. IT deparments will be able to restrict the amount of pictures and videos downloaded at work, which are irrelevant to the business.

CBN iControl does not require additional hardware or software, and can be configured according to specific needs. At the moment, only the basic level of the service is available. iControl can help protect us from cyber crimes such as identity theft and credit card hacking.

Sugiharto Darmakusuma, CBN’s chief commercial officer, emphasized that the new service was also part of his company’s CSR program, which focuses on providing a clean pipe to the clouds. In addition to offering a constantly updated antivirus database, iControl has features such as URL filtering, web 2.0 control, data loss prevention, browser control and P2P protection.

CBN iControl exemplifies the type initiatives ISPs are implementing to integrate web security into their services.

The question remains: Is it possible to find a technology that will protect us from malicious threats once and for all?

The answer is unfortunately no, because as Joy Gosh, Zscaler‘s managing director for Asia Pacific said in the launch event, “The threat landscape continues to change.”

However, research continues. As reported by ScienceDaily on May 3, 2010, researchers from the North Carolina State University have come up with HyperSafe, software to safeguard virtualized computing resources in the clouds.

Virtualization is the essence of cloud computing, allowing multiple users to share the use of a pool of computing resources.

So, the future of cloud computing security is not so bleak after all.


©2009 Antivirus Support | by TNB