At first it was not meant for this info to go live for another week or so, but someone leaked it already so there is no point in keeping the cat in the bag anymore… avast! 2014 has NOT yet been released, this is just a teaser announcement. Public beta testing will soon begin and the actual final release to the end users planned later this year…
New naming scheme
We talked about this a lot in the past years and now the decision has been made to follow the year numbers in the program name. While many of the advanced users generally don’t like this, it makes sense in a way. For me as an advanced user, it doesn’t really matter if it says avast! Antivirus 9.0 or avast! Antivirus 2014. But to some casual user, “2014” tells that he is using the latest version. So, that in a way makes casual users more aware of keeping program up to date. With antiviruses, that is very important as only the latest version can effectively combat latest threats.
New release schedule
In the past years, new avast! version has been released in February every year. This brought few complications for the testing of avast! by various testing organizations like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives which mostly conduct tests from December to July, so avast! often got a bit handicapped because of that. I mean, it was basically old version of avast! against latest versions from competitors, because the casual February release was in the middle of the testing where program versions are usually frozen and they don’t get changed during testing. I’m not expecting drastic changes, but at least the competition will be somewhat more equal for everyone (especially for avast!). Oh and this also goes better with the yearly naming scheme. New year number just before it actually transitions into the actual New Year.
New protection features
Along with new version also come amazing new protection features. Here are few of the most profound ones…
- DeepScreen Technology
A successor to the AutoSandbox, an enhanced version with capability to make much more intelligent decisions for new/unknown files and offers advanced new features like Dynamic Binary Translation and Dyna-Gen (a fully machine generated behavior detection signatures). We’ve seen a great success with Evo-Gen (fully machine generated generic “signature” detections), so we are expecting quite a jump in detection with it.
- Hardened Mode
Hardened Mode is a new mode designed to further reinforce the system for less knowledgeable users. There will be two modes, Moderate (which blocks anything that would otherwise be verified by DeepScreen) and Aggressive (which blocks everything unknown to the FileRep service (file reputation in the cloud)). This is very useful for systems operated by those who don’t know much about computers like kids or grandma/grandpa. Basically it brings whitelisting concept into a more every day use.
- Improved cloud scanning and crowdsourced analysis
New array of optimized mechanisms that allow better collection of data from avast! sensors and feeding that data to the whole protection backend.
- Continuous Streaming Updates (CSU)
This technology is not exactly new as it’s already being used in avast! 8.0. Streaming Updates were in the beginning updates that filled the gap between casual every day updates. In the beginning they were released hourly through the operating hours of avast! Virus Lab to avoid possible devastating false positives, but now the process has matured enough to be fully autonomous and released around the clock 24/7, 365 days a year. The process is so mature that is feeding malware detection “signatures” to the end users roughly every 3.75 minutes, giving avast! capability to stay in touch with all the very latest malware. Streaming Updates can now also carry more advanced detections and not just the most basic ones, so they can feed sophisticated detection measures even through these nearly instantaneous updates. avast! Virus Lab is currently feeding roughly 350-400 updates per day to their users!
- Improved malware cleaning and disinfection
This includes improved cleaning capabilities of standard malware as well as rootkits and file infectors.
Other new features
- All new web browsing plugins
Featuring comprehensive security ratings, protection against malware, phishing and typosquatting sites and Do-Not-Track (DNT) functionality for improved anonymity on the Internet. The DNT functionality doesn’t rely on the DNT HTTP headers, instead, it uses a proprietary technology that cannot be overridden by the servers.
- All new SafeZone
New and enhanced SafeZone allowing users to switch between secure and normal browser in one click and also allow to open banking webpages directly into SafeZone.
- Rescue Disc
Users will be able to create a bootable CD or USB drive that can be then used for cleaning of resilient malware or systems infested by ransomware where user cannot access installed antivirus software to initiate cleaning.
- New interface
A new streamlined interface. Till now, the interface only evolved slightly, but with avast! 2014, the interface is going to be revolutionized. It’s an all new, slightly Windows 8 styled interface which you can check in the screenshots below… It’s not finalized yet, but this is roughly how it will look like. Shields have also been consolidated into only 3 shields (File Shield, Web Shield, Mail Shield). Front interface screen will also allow users to place their favorite functions to the front as a fully customizable buttons, so you can always have all the important and most used features at your finger tips.
- Control all devices from one interface
Control and manage all protected devices directly from the Avast console. That is, the my.avast.com account is perfectly integrated in the UI to allow for management of all your devices running Avast.
- Much smaller installer
Dramatic reduction in product size (full installer < 60MB, compared to today’s 120MB) and memory footprint. By default, install is done through a new stub installer though (which has the advantage of always installing the most up-to-date version). I also hope standalone offline versions will be provided for systems that don’t have internet connection at the time of installation.
- Much faster scan engine
Faster scanning thanks to optimized scanning engine (raw [in-memory] scans of EXE files are about 2x faster, while scans of text contents (e.g. web pages and scripts) are up to 10x faster). This should provide less drag on the system and much smaller delays when viewing webpages and running programs.
- New updating system
Completely rewritten setup/updater that makes the installation and upgrade process faster, easier and more reliable
- New firewall engine
Firewall has been redesigned from scratch to allow for better compatibility with latest Windows, better performance and full support for IPv6. The interface hasn’t changed much, but the firewall core engine is all new.
- New licensing system
New licensing system allows for much easier management of product licenses. The system relies on activation codes, and these can be added seamlessly by simply clicking a link. Not much is (yet) known how the FREE version will have to be re-registered. Hopefully the process will be much simplified and less confusing to the casual users who just want to be protected with as little effort as possible.
- Other improvements
There also improvements to the Software Updater and browser Cleanup tool which might not be as apparent on the outside, but they are there 🙂
These images don’t represent the exact final visual appearance, but they will give you a rough idea how avast 2014 will look like 🙂
This is it for now, I will keep you up to date with further info as it becomes available… 🙂