The service, called ITGuardDog, has been developed by systems integration company Netstar. ITGuardDog is a Net-based offering and incorporates the McAfee antivirus product.
ITGuardDog is targeted at users in a home office, up to organisations with over 1000 users. A cost of $6.48 per month per desktop applies, with a minimum of two desktops ($155.52 per year). Prices decrease for a two-year contract.
Normally, users of antivirus software must rely on downloading update patches themselves from their AV supplier. This usually occurs when they remember to do so, or when a major virus is released and serves as a timely reminder.
For ITGuardDog, Netstar has a dedicated link to the McAfee antivirus labs. The very instant an update is released, it is sent down to the ITGuardDog server centre which is housed in Sydney. These updates are then relayed to servers or PCs connected to ITGuardDog in order to combat any threat caused by a virus outbreak. "It is all about getting quick definitions [virus updates] out to people," said Greg Singh, Netstar security consultant.
To help facilitate the speedy deployment of the antivirus updates to users' desktops, Netstar has licensed Rumor technology from Network Associates. Rumor is a peer-to-peer technology that can speed the deployment of an antivirus update. Under this system, one computer in a network will download the patch from ITGuardDog. The next user to log on downloads it from the first computer, making two computers that have downloaded the update. The next computer to log on downloads it from either of the first two, making it three, and so on. This avoids the need for each computer to go to the McAfee site and download the patch. Instead, it is on the network and shared automatically among networked computers, allowing all PCs to be updated instantly.