Kaspersky Lab has just released their latest and greatest FREE version of their flagship product, Kaspersky Antivirus. And while half of the world is still panicking about Russian conspiracy bullshit, this one is a golden nugget. A really big one.
As you can see, it hasn’t changed much on the outside compared to version 2018. It’s still a very pleasant interface design.
What’s really new and exciting is what’s underneath the interface and you can see this in settings…
Granted, they have locked down the settings, but as an expert user, I believe their out of the box setup is great and doesn’t really need any fiddling with settings. Sure, I liked file heuristics at High sensitivity, but we gained System Watcher.
If you don’t know what System Watcher is, it’s an incredibly sophisticated behavior blocker capable of detecting malware based on behavior and not signatures. I’ve tested it several months ago and it was spectacular. Paired with Kaspersky’s KSN cloud, really good file heuristics and excellent signatures and we have a product that will seriously challenge pretty much all existing free antiviruses like avast!, AVIRA, AVG, Panda Free and Bitdefender Free. It’s REALLY good and while I’m an avast! aficionado, but I really like this new Kaspersky Antivirus Free 2019. It just works out of the box.
Give it a try, you might be surprised how nice it is.
General Download (Select “The European Union” because others still serve 2018 version).
Kaspersky offered Kaspersky Antivirus Free to certain countries for quite a while. But yesterday, Kaspersky finally released it for everyone to use, worldwide.
Kaspersky Antivirus Free however does come with few limitations however (no way, really? 😀 ). As you can see from the main panel image, they disabled few options. And this trend continues in settings as well…
While most features missing in settings aren’t big show stoppers, lack of SystemWatcher however is. A bit. SystemWatcher is Kaspersky’s flagship behavioral blocker which is very powerful. Missing this component in Free version means it’ll perform considerably worse than their paid versions. Only consolation is the fact that Free version still connects to KSN, Kaspersky’s cloud system which does interact with SystemWatcher component on paid versions, meaning Free users benefit from SystemWatcher, but indirectly rather than directly. In an essence, a paid user of Kaspersky has to encounter a super brand new malware, that person will then supply the detection metrics to the KSN and you as a Free user will receive protection against that malware from someone else’s SystemWatcher indirectly via KSN.
This is how a detection dialog looks now on Windows 10. It’s utilizing native Windows notification system to show malware detection alerts.
While I don’t think it’ll pose an immediate threat to avast! or AVG which do provide full behavior blocker even in their Free version, it’s nice to have another option among free antiviruses. Kaspersky, despite lacking some core protection features will for sure still provide sufficient protection beyond what most of other free antiviruses provide. That especially applies to Windows Defender.
Only thing that is still uncertain is the fact that license says it will last for 365 days. What happens after that? avast!, AVG, AVIRA, Panda Antivirus free, all these are free forever. Will Kaspersky Antivirus Free only be “free” just for one year and then the fun is over or can you extend/renew this? Can’t find any info on this. We’ll see I guess…
It seems Kaspersky Antivirus Free will be available for more than 1 year (365 days license). Some user on Kaspersky forum changed his date to 2020 and Kaspersky Antivirus Free said it expired and that it has limited functionality. After clicking RENEW button, he got another 365 days license. So, I guess that explains it all. Things may change down the line, but it seems to be set for free renewals as things stand now.
Some years ago, Bitdefender released a widely popular free version of their product in a very trimmed down version with minimal settings and most of detection based on cloud lookup opposed to full fledged protection offered by their main paid for programs.
It was very popular because it was free, fast and had very high detection ratio. But then Windows 10 came and there were problems with its drivers which for some reason never got updated even though their main lineup was fully compatible already. This new version (I call it 2017 even though it doesn’t have such official name) was in beta for quite a while, but has been released into public final version.
As you can see (apart from white border of the bottom screenshot merging with my page background 😛 ) it’s again super simple. You basically have no settings to control other than one button to initiate full system scan, one protection switch which allows you to toggle protection on and off on your own. Exclusions and quarantine are only under user control once something is detected first and user decides to release the file from quarantine and exclude it. You can’t exclude things in advance by adding file or folder paths on your own like in other antiviruses. Some don’t like this, but it’s perfect for most casual users since it just protects them with minimal interference and interface that isn’t overwhelming at all.
I haven’t yet tested it’s protection capabilities, but since it’s from Bitdefender which has always been at the top of all protection charts, it should be pretty effective despite lacking a lot of advanced protective features found in their paid product.
Be aware that Bitdefender Antivirus Free requires registration of a Bitdefender account and being logged into that account within the antivirus in order to use it for free. Registration itself is free, I just wanted to let you guys know, because I know some don’t like antiviruses which require this.
This antivirus has actually been around for quite a while, but it hasn’t really interested me because the old interface was a bit clumsy and the scanning reliability was rather poor.
But that has changed quite dramatically with version 4.4 (I’m reviewing 4.4.1). The interface is now incredibly pleasant to use, has a logical layout and most importantly, they seem to have resolved scanning reliability as well. Universal AV is fast and reliable now and they have also replaced VirusTotal multi-engine online scanning service with Jotti, which is an older service with a bit less scanners, but it seems to be a lot faster and reliable. I do hope VirusTotal will one day return to assist Jotti scanner, but it’s still very good as it is right now.
This antivirus is a bit special. It uses local antivirus of your choice or you can also use integrated one (ClamAV, very basic, but it works), but its special sauce lays or shall I say floats in the cloud in form of two services. One is Universal AV which depends on several antivirus engines running on SecureAPlus servers, placing ZERO load on your system. All is done through intelligent fingerprinting, you only have to submit whole EXE to their server for analysis if no fingerprint is found on their server to match the potential malware on your system. After few seconds, results are returned to you and you can decide what to do if found to be potentially malicious.
Second line of defense from the cloud is Jotti’s service, again with multi-engine scan service which at the moment boasts 19 different antivirus scan engines.
In theory, not even two such services can deliver absolute 100% protection, but with so many engines, chances of malware evading all of them becomes very slim. And given you don’t experience any slowdowns on your system, the more engines there is, the better.
Another good thing about it is that you can use it along with your favorite existing antivirus. I personally don’t trust ClamAV all that much, so I’m using avast! instead of ClamAV. They can run both together without problems. I had to exclude avast! main folder in SecureAgePlus because it was asking about one avast! file, but after I’ve done that, it seems to work fine.
To even further extend the security, SecureAgePlus also relies on whitelisting and certificates to lower false positives as well as give you more clues whether you should trust a file or not. Unfortunately it is not possible to disable whitelist, which makes it tiny bit annoying if one wants to only use it as a pure second opinion antivirus and nothing else.
SecureAge is using an interesting Freemium licensing model. In a nutshell, it’s free for initial 1 year and it can be free beyond that if you’re willing to invest some time into promoting it. Either by posting about it on social media, writing testimony, review (like this one) and simply spread a word about it. If you’re not willing to do all this, you can also decide to support it directly with a Premium license. If you want to give it a try, make sure to use my referral link below and help me out receiving points so I can extend my Freemium license.
Like I’ve said, on install you get 1 year free and fully functional antivirus, so you don’t have anything to lose really and you help me out at the same time. Give it a try and see for yourself how it works and how effective it is.
Few minor dislikes…
After all the praising, there always comes that “but”. Luckily, it’s nothing major really. Only things that are a bit annoying is that you can’t install ClamAV directly from within SecureAgePlus interface if you’ve deselected it during initial installation. You have to run installer again and check it there. Would be a lot more convenient if there was an option for that already inside interface. Next thing I don’t like it a bit is the fact that you can’t disable Application Whitelisting service entirely and use SecureAgePlus only as a second opinion scanner, you can only adjust it to be more permissive. You always have to deal with whitelisting dialogs if some new app isn’t yet whitelisted. Can be a bit annoying sometimes. there is also no On-Demand scan option within main interface, other than Full System scan. You have to use Explorer context menu to scan individual folders. And lastly, initial scan takes VERY long even on top of the line system with very fast SSD as it’s main and only drive. I’m guessing it has to hash all files on the drive for Whitelisting to work, so be prepared to leave system on for SecureAgePlus to finish this first scan. After that is done, all consecutive Full System scans are done in few seconds.
very high detection rate
very small performance footprint despite multiple engines
very nice and logical interface
functional with other security software with minimal effort
Free for 1 year plus option for free extension
very long initial scan even on top end system
a bit clumsy later installation of optional local ClamAV scan engine
no On-Demand scan options other than context menu scan and Full System scan
cannot disable Whitelisting part entirely and only use it as second opinion AV only
still giving user a final word whether to trust or block a file despite scan verdicts (may be risky with some users who don’t understand scan results)
All in all, it’s a very interesting and effective security software. It’s not flawless, but the flaws it has are very minor despite making a “Cons” list rather long. I’m pretty sure they’ll fix or improve most of these in the future. And even if they don’t, I can safely assume most people wouldn’t mind if these remain as they are just things I personally disliked a bit. They probably won’t even bother most users. Give it a try and decide for yourself. I really like it now and I think I’ll keep it as second line of defense next to avast!. 🙂
Wow, I just received info about AVAST Software (makers of avast! Antivirus) buying AVG Technologies (makers of AVG Antivirus). This news was a bit of a shock for me since I wasn’t expecting it at all. avast! bought few smaller developers in the past, but nothing this big. These are two largest Czech software companies and if the whole thing goes through well, we are going to be looking at European security powerhouse. Both companies have well over 200 million active users, assuming all AVG users will stick with avast!, their userbase will extend to massive 400-500 million users. That’s almost half a billion users. Mind blowing numbers. It’s hard to say how things will change for the future, but there are certainly technological benefits from this purchase, from protection features as well as knowledge. Not really expecting large changes within software till 2017, maybe even 2018, but they might surprise us.
Official statement from AVAST Software CEO, Vince Steckler:
As many of you know, there are two security companies that often get confused: Avast and AVG. Shortly after I started as CEO almost 8 years ago, I remember giving a presentation to a large audience about Avast. About an hour later, a gentleman walked up to me and complimented me on how good the presentation was and how he enjoyed hearing about AVG. That was my first lesson in how easy the companies are to confuse.
This confusion is because the companies are so very similar. Both company names start with the letters “AV”. Both started in the late 1980s and were amongst the first few companies formed to fight the viruses and malware nearly 30 years ago. Both are historically Czech: Avast was founded in Prague and is still based there while AVG was historically in Brno, the two largest cities in the Czech Republic. Both pioneered the free distribution of top quality security products (although to be honest, I must admit that AVG was first and we followed). Both make great security products. Both are innovators with world class R&D teams. Both have most of their users outside of their home Czech market. Both have had similar user bases for many years: about 200M each. And most importantly, both treat their users with respect and consequently each has a large and loyal user base. One slight difference though is that while Avast is a private company, AVG is public and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In spite of this one difference, these companies are so similar that it is only natural that they be combined and that is what we are now planning on doing. Under an agreement signed with AVG, Avast will be making an offer ($25 per share or about $1.3 billion in total) to buy all shares of AVG’s stock which AVG’s board is recommending their shareholders accept. If the AVG shareholders do accept, following the various governmental regulators approvals, AVG will become part of Avast and we will jointly work on a great future together. We expect this to take a few months. Now this process is much more complex than this simple description and there are a lot of rules and regulations about the process and what we can say, etc. As a result, at the bottom of this blog entry you will find a page of important disclosures that you should read if you are a shareholder, contemplating being a shareholder, or are just curious.
The process does not allow us to talk a lot about how we would operate after combining, etc. so I can just say a little. I do think this combination is great for our users. We will have over 250 million PC/Mac users enabling us to gather even more threat data to improve the protection to our users. In mobile, our combined 160 million mobile users will be used to improve protection as well as to provide an important stepping stone into the Internet of things. Additionally, we will be gaining some exciting mobile technology designed to protect families on line. In SMB, we will be better able to support our business users with a larger geographic footprint, better technical support, and the best technologies from our two companies.
Our website (and AVG’s) contains a lot more information about this transaction—the press release, FAQs, etc. As we are allowed during the process, we will convey to you, our users and customers, all the information that we are allowed. Most importantly though, I assure you that we value every single Avast and AVG user and will do our best in the future to keep you protected and to keep your trust.
This communication contains forward-looking information that involves substantial risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. These risks and uncertainties include those related to, among other things: general economic conditions and conditions affecting the industries in which Parent, Buyer and the Company operate; and the parties’ ability to satisfy the conditions to the contemplated tender offer and consummate the transactions described in this communication; and the Company’s performance and maintenance of important business relationships. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release, and neither Parent, Buyer nor the Company assumes any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, except as required by law.
Additional Information and Where to Find It
The tender offer referenced in this communication has not yet commenced. This communication is for informational purposes only and is neither an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell any ordinary shares of the Company or any other securities. The solicitation and offer to purchase ordinary shares of the Company will only be made pursuant to an Offer to Purchase, a related letter of transmittal and certain other tender offer documents. At the time the tender offer is commenced, Parent and Buyer will file a tender offer statement on Schedule TO, including an Offer to Purchase, a related letter of transmittal and certain other tender offer documents, and the Company will file a Solicitation/Recommendation Statement on Schedule 14D-9, with the SEC, each with respect to the tender offer. The Company’s shareholders are urged to read the tender offer statement and Solicitation/Recommendation Statement, as they may be amended from time to time, as well as any other relevant documents filed with the SEC, when they become available, carefully and in their entirety because they will contain important information that holders of the Company’s securities should consider before making any decision regarding tendering their securities. The Offer to Purchase, the related Letter of Transmittal and certain other tender offer documents, as well as the Solicitation/Recommendation Statement, will be made available to all holders of ordinary shares of the Company at no expense to them from the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.
avast! has just released a big update. Maybe not big on the outside, but under the hood, it has undergone some big changes.
What’s new in version 12.1.2272:
Lower system impact – faster boot time, less space taken on disk
CyberCapture – better detection of unknown and unique files via our cloud technology
Regular monthly program updates – automatic and silent, configurable via Settings
Improved detection of router vulnerabilities
New Bank mode in SafeZone browser
Faster SecureLine connection
Antispam is now as opt-in component
Removed hardware virtualization (NG) – replaced with CyberCapture,that has much lower impact on system resources
Removed Remote assistance – not used enough and not a core functionality
Two biggest changes are monthly program updates and CyberCapture. Monthly updates mean more flexible updating, faster fixing of vulnerabilities and faster evolution of protection technologies with less bugs since they can focus on individual parts of the program instead of accumulating huge number of changes for big releases every few months.
CyberCapture, the second and probably one of largest things is replacing old Secure VM (NG Technology). Secure VM was a big virtualized behavior analysis system running on local system. Imagine creating a clone of your entire system and running it as a secure analysis system on top of your own system. Not only this was very demanding or system, it was also quite problematic and it rarely really worked well. CyberCapture is basically an inverted system of old Secure VM. Instead of running virtualized system on every user computer, suspicious files are now sent to avast! cloud where it essentially does even more advanced analysis on avast! servers. Freeing user computers of heavy load while allowing avast! analysts to have more control over file analysis, being able to update their detection systems more often and provide better protection. Analysis take a bit longer now, but are more rigorous and hopefully with even higher detection rate. We’ll see how that will prove itself in tests and real world scenarios.
More info and download links can be found here. If you’re already using avast!, just invoke Program Update and it’ll update to this version automatically.
Largest Chinese security vendor Qihoo (360 Security) has finally released a stripped down version of their flagship product 360 Total Security. It’s called 360 Total Security Essentials and it has all the malware protection goodies found in the full suite, they’ve just removed all the unnecessary extras like registry cleaner, junk file cleaner, file shredder and so on. It’s not a pure clean anti-malware program without the extra fat. Which is lovely. I really liked this app, but allt he stuff I didn’t need was really getting in the way and it was annoying. But not anymore. Hurray! 🙂
360 Total Security is powered by their own Cloud scanner and Heuristics as well as with optional AVIRA and BitDefender scan engines. It has also scored incredibly well in several latest malware tests. Did I mention it’s completely free? Yup, it will not cost you a single cent!
AVAST Software has released a new major version of their flagship product avast Antivirus today. Here is the list of major changes/improvements:
• HTTPS scanning
Ability to detect and decrypt TLS/SSL protected traffic in the Web-content filtering component. This feature will protect you against viruses coming through HTTPs traffic as well as adding compatibility for SPDY+HTTPS/ HTTP 2.0 traffic. You can tune/disable this feature in the settings section.
• AVAST NG
A hardware based virtualization solution capable of running each Windows process in standalone safe virtualized environment (VM) and fully integrated to your desktop. Each process is executed in its own instance of VM, which means totally isolated from your other applications. This feature is now powering the Avast DeepScreen, resulting in better detection. Avast NG requires HW virtualization enabled.
• SecureDNS (this feature is active in the paid versions only)
A new provider which guards against unprotected DNS/DNS hijack on a router/client (including unsecured networks, public ones, etc.).
• Home Network Security
Scan your home network for vulnerabilities (wifi status, connected devices, router settings, factory passwords, etc.). It helps to discover potential problems not isolated on the particular device only, but in the entire network of devices you use or connect to the Internet from.
• Smart Scan
Integrated all on demand scans into one (Antivirus, Software updates, Home Network, GrimeFighter). One scan, different results and recommendations.
• New Support System
Easy contact for paid users to submit a ticket with all info included automatically. Improved knowledge base for free users. Help is completely online and is more up to date.
• General bugfixing
This covers a lot of stability & performance changes in all components (but the main focus was traditionally on the network & engine components).
I’ve launched a new sub-page for avast! Antivirus configuration tweaks which provide the least intrusive experience with maximum protection and performance. If you just want antivirus to silently sit in the corner of your desktop and do its job when malware is detected, then you’ll love it. All the animations, information pop ups and sounds are interesting at first, but over time, they do get a bit annoying (at least they did for me). My configuration file takes care about that and much more.
Access the sub-page on the link below or through the right side Pages panel…
After a quite long BETA test, avast! team has released their flagship product avast! Antivirus. It brings many new features that I wrote about some time ago. Below here is just an official summary of important new features. I love the way how this new avast! turned and I think you will be too 🙂 It’s a great protection package with some really cool features like Hardened Mode for users who don’t know much about computers, the crazy fast scanning, new completely transparent Auto Sandbox (now called DeepScreen) and so on and on. You won’t be disappointed!
Protection-related features and improvements
New DeepScreen technology allows avast! to make more intelligent decisions about new/unknown files. DeepScreen is a successor of AutoSandbox, now upgraded with some additional new technologies such as dynamic binary translation and dyna-gen announced earlier.
New Hardened mode for stricter lockdown scenarios. This is a new mode that is recommended especially for novice users (such as your grandmas): it automatically blocks execution of binaries that would normally be deepscreened (Moderate level) or even allows only execution of programs that are well-known to FileRep (Aggressive level). In a way, it brings the whitelisting concept to the consumer AV space.
Improved cloud scanning features and crowdsourced analysis of suspicious items. This includes new, optimized mechanism for collecting data from our sensors.
Continuously streaming update (CSU) technology for up-to-minute detections. This is not entirely new for v2014, but we now have really buttoned up the whole streaming update infrastructure to allow for reliable, uninterrupted service. We’re currently doing 350-400 updates a day, which equals to one update in roughly every 3.75 minutes, 24×7, 365 days a year. Streaming updates can now also carry more types of definitions than before.
Improved cleaning of malware. This applies to standard malware as well as rootkits and file infectors.
Other new features
All-new web browser 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 for more secure online shopping and banking. Users can now switch back and forth between SafeZone and the regular browser with a single click. Also, online banking sites can be automatically opened in the SafeZone.
Rescue disk – allow users to create a bootable CD or flash disk with Avast on it. Great for cleaning.
A new, streamlined user interface for simplified navigation and more user comfort. The new UI is actually much simplified, and it’s probably the biggest change since version 5.0. We have also redefined the shields to the total number of three (File Shield, Web Shield, Mail Shield) and tweaked the action buttons (tiles) on the home page so that they’re now fully configurable.
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.
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).
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).
Completely rewritten setup/updater that makes the installation and upgrade process faster, easier and more reliable
Firewall has been redesigned from scratch to allow for better compatibility with latest Windows, better performance and full support for IPv6 (although its UI hasn’t really changed).
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.
Various improvement in the Software Updater and Browser Cleanup tool.vvv