The Russian Internet security software vendor is touting new features, improved usability in its product refresh

Kaspersky Lab launches 2010 consumer security software

Looking to build on the success that has seen it capture the number two spot after just three years in the retail market, Russian Internet security software vendor Kaspersky Lab has recently refreshed its consumer product line-up.

Kaspersky says Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010 have been designed to address emerging and evolving threats in the Internet security space, such as ever increasing levels of malware, the emergence of scareware, and the shifting focus of attacks from the operating system to third-party applications.

According to data from the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, applications such as Adobe Acrobat and Reader, along with application Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint, are becoming popular targets.

“That’s somewhat due to the fact that the operating systems, such as Windows, have done a very good job at securing their systems and patching vulnerabilities through a process everyone knows and understands now, and a lot of newly exploited vulnerabilities in the third-party software space,” said Peter Beardmore, senior product marketing manager, Kaspersky Lab Americas.

The purveyors of malware are also getting sneakier in their methods, said Beardmore. According to Kaspersky, 80 per cent of all drive-by download attacks are now occurring on otherwise legitimate Web sites.

“No longer can (people) use (their) wits and stay away from malware by avoiding pornography or gambling sites,” said Beardmore. “Malware is being distributed through normal, otherwise trusted sites via adware, other types of news feeds, or dynamically-generated content. Also, social networks are really ground-zero for targeted attacks.”

Attacks utilizing social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are taking advantage of the implied trust between users supposedly known to each other.

“Our own research has found those types of attacks are 10-times more effective than traditional malware attacks,” said Beardmore.

When it came time to design the 2010 consumer product suite, Beardmore said the challenge was balancing protection from these emerging threats with the need for performance that won’t annoy the end-user.

“It really comes down to the politeness of the application. Is the application performing well and not obtrusive to the user,” said Beardmore. “Is it bringing security information to the user on a need to know basis, helping them make the appropriate decision, and providing them the tools they need when they need them?”

Since no one method of security can effectively deal with all threats, Kaspersky has adopted a layered approach to its Internet security products.

New for 2010 is the Urgent Protection System, which is designed to deal with emerging threats more quickly. The button for the Kaspersky URL advisor has been added to the Web browser, as has a button for a refined virtual keyboard, which disables screen capture software and foils keystroke loggers when entering sensitive personal information, such as banking passwords.

Kaspersky has also refined its vulnerability assessment and whitelisting application control tools. Beardmore said the first generation of antivirus software would look for and block the bad stuff, leaving the rest unknown. The second generation added heuristics and real-time monitoring, keeping an eye on the unknown category. That meant a process to manage every process, which hogged resources and created usability challenges.

To address that, Beardmore said Kaspersky’s application control approach uses a combination of white-listing, signature matching and heuristics to clear trusted applications while still keeping an eye out for suspicious behaviour.

“This gives us the benefit of significantly lifting the system burden on benign applications,” said Beardmore. “They run unhindered and we don’t have to do a lot of the close monitoring we’d previously done.”

Also new for 2010 is Kaspersky Safe Run, a walled-off sandbox environment where users can run and open suspicious files and programs, as well as a Gamer Mode, which lets users block pop-ups and ensure Kaspersky uses a minimum of system resources.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 retails for $79.95 and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010 retails for $59.95, and both come with a one-year license for three users. Kaspersky’s Canadian retail partners include Best Buy, Future Shop, Staples, Office Depot and London Drugs, and the products are available now.

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