The Podiyan

Monday, May 18, 2009

Prevx 3.0 Detects More Malware

Prevx 3.0

Price as Tested: $29.95
Type: Business, Personal, Enterprise, Professional
OS Compatibility: Windows Vista, Windows XP
Notes: $29.95/year

Most modern antimalware utilities or suites include a large database of signatures to help them identify known malware. Some can't scan at all after installation, until they perform a lengthy signature update. The database keeps growing as new malware appears at an ever-increasing rate. And, of course, zero-day malware may slip through before a signature becomes available. The better signature-based tools supplement their scanning with behavior-based detection of new threats. Prevx 3.0 ($29.95/year direct) turns this concept on its head. It relies on behavior-based detection as its first line of defense, and it does a great job, too.

The Prevx Process

When download Prevx you may think something's gone wrong with the browser. It couldn't have finished that fast, could it? But in truth the download is a mere 800 KB. MalwareBytes' Anti-Malware is a significantly smaller download than most antimalware programs but it's still almost four times Prevx's size. You'd expect Panda Cloud Antivirus 0.9 to be a small download, since its intelligence lives in the cloud, but it weighs in at nearly 20 MB. Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 6 is well over 20 MB and Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware 6.0 just short of 40 MB. Prevx's minuscule download size is the first clue that we're looking at something really, really different.

Installation happens so fast you could miss it if you blink. A couple seconds after you accept the license agreement and click Next the installation is complete. Panda and Malwarebytes both install in a little over a minute; I used to think that was fast. Eight minutes to install Webroot and 18 minutes to install Spyware Doctor on an identical test system now seem positively glacial.

Immediately upon installation Prevx launches directly into a required "learning scan." During this scan, it checks the installed programs and other executables on your system against the Prevx online database, identifying known good programs and flagging any malware it finds. The learning scan just takes a minute or so.

If the learning scan finds low-risk adware, Prevx offers to clean it up for free. If it finds anything more serious than that, you have to purchase and enter a license key before it will perform a cleanup. After you enter the license key, Prevx starts its standard full scan, which is more thorough than the learning scan. On a malware-infested system, this scan sometimes took four or five minutes. On a clean system, it ran in less than two minutes.

Prevx relies entirely on its online database for malware identification, so it simply won't scan if it can't contact the database. This is slightly different from Cloud Antivirus, which procedes with the scan after warning the user that it won't be fully effective. On the other hand, Cloud Antivirus needed a full half-hour to scan my standard clean test system.

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