Antivirus Software Goes Free

Computer Associates on Tuesday released free antivirus software that the company says doesn't need to be updated with every new virus that appears.

Designed for home PC users, Mail Watcher and eTrust Content Inspection Personal Edition can be downloaded at CA's website, says Simon Perry, CA vice president of security solutions.

The two products are designed to be proactive rather than reactive, detecting new viruses so that home users don't need to update antivirus software every time a new threat surfaces, Perry says.

"There is no longer the requirement to update the virus signature every time a VBS virus comes out," Perry said, referring to the recent spate of viruses and worms that use Microsoft's Visual Basic Script tool to attack computers.

Although the software does not eliminate the need to periodically update antivirus software, it will detect commonly used malicious code to the extent that new viruses and worms following common patterns will be found without updates, he said.

The eTrust product protects users against the file types most commonly used by virus writers, he says. It scans all of a user's email, and scans attachments before they are opened. It further blocks all VBS attachments. It will allow executable files to run, but it will block any that attempt to attach to a computer hard drive, he says.

Mail Watcher scans mail for "actions commonly used to virus writers" and alerts users when suspicious mail is detected, Perry says.

Recent viruses and worms, including the Love Bug worm, have affected millions of users worldwide, including home PCs, with one estimate of $US6.7 billion for its cost worldwide, Perry notes.

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