Security software vendor Webroot has thrown the proverbial gauntlet down to its competitors with the launch of its new consumer-level protection software, SecureAnywhere. The new software is almost entirely based in the cloud and requires only a very small software footprint on consumers' computers, freeing up the system resources often hogged by traditional anti-malware, firewall and anti-virus products.
Most anti-virus software maintains a suite of software on users' computers along with a bulky database of virus 'definitions' (signatures characteristic to each virus or malware variant). Webroot SecureAnywhere turns this traditional anti-virus model on its head, storing definitions and the majority of virus-identifying components in an online 'threat intelligence network' — this means storage and processing demands on end users' computers are greatly lessened.
Independent testing on the new Webroot SecureAnywhere software by Sydney-based PassMark reports that its install size of a mere 6MB is 98% smaller than the average size of leading antivirus products (ESET NOD32, Norton 2011, Trend Micro 2012, AVG 2011, Kaspersky 2012, and McAfee 2011), and that Webroot's initial system scan is 3.5 times faster on average. Subsequent system scans take less than two minutes and will reportedly run capably in the background without interrupting users' system activity.
The key to Webroot's speed and small footprint is the power of its online component, which remotely assesses files and identifies threats through file behaviour and data signatures. The amount of data uploaded and downloaded to and from Webroot's servers is only small, and once a file signature is classified as a threat Webroot's servers allow any computer running a subsequent scan to check for that file signature or behaviour. Because of this Webroot claims 'instant protection' against new threats — no client-side updates are needed for new virus definitions to be checked against. Webroot's cloud-based operation also means that virus definition updates do not increase the amount of data stored on users' computers.
The reliance upon cloud-based protection requires an Internet connection for possible threats to be identified and properly catalogued in Webroot's worldwide servers, but SecureAnywhere's offline component records all system activity while an Internet connection is not available, prevents any known threats and later submits data for assessing and cataloguing once Internet access is re-established. Webroot says that SecureAnywhere can be used alongside competing anti-virus products without interference for increased security.
The latest software release from Webroot includes a mobile component — the company has released free and paid apps for the Android operating system and a free app for Apple iOS (with a paid suite coming in November), comprising antivirus protection, secure Web browsing, password management and other phone-specific features.
Webroot's software is intended to be user-friendly but also customisable for power users, and includes a number of different components (like a firewall, system process shield and Web threat shield) that can be used or ignored as required. The Webroot SecureAnywhere software is available now in a range of configurations for basic or multi-user environments:
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus - 1 PC: $39.95; 3 PCs: $49.95
Basic antimalware service that delivers all of the high performance, protection and management benefits of Webroot SecureAnywhere
Webroot SecureAnywhere Essentials - 3 PCs: $59.95
Mid-level security suite that extends protection with:
Windows firewall management
Identity protection securing transactions like online banking
File backup and synchronization across PCs and browsers
2GB of online storage
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete - 3 PCs & 3 mobile devices: $79.95
Premium security suite that also includes:
Password management and synchronization across multiple PCs and mobile devices
10GB of online file storage