New Spy Sweeper Includes Sophos AntiVirus Component

Webroot Software this week announced the availability of Spy Sweeper with Antivirus, a new product developed in partnership with software vendor Sophos.

Webroot produces anti-spyware products for consumers, enterprises and small-to-medium businesses.

“We are taking Spy Sweeper to the next level by offering our customers a fully featured, single solution to protect their computers from both viruses and spyware infections,” Gerhard Eschelbeck, Webroot’s chief technology officer and senior vice president of engineering, told TechNewsWorld.

Sophos’ antivirus component is tightly integrated into the Spy Sweeper user interface, he added.

Spy Sweeper with AntiVirus is powered by Phileas V, the next generation of Webroot’s automated spyware research system that proactively seeks the most malicious types of spyware and malware.

Converging Threats

When run, Spy Sweeper with AntiVirus can automatically download the latest spyware and virus definitions from Webroot’s servers. Webroot’s engineers use the accumulated Phileas V data to ensure that its spyware definition database and detection capabilities are current.

The company’s in-house threat research teams have begun to notice that the lines defining spyware and viruses are growing increasingly blurred, according to Webroot CEO C. David Moll. The product provides protection in one box for the two main threats on the Internet, he added.

Users can still purchase the original Spy Sweeper minus the antivirus component.

Anti-Piracy Measures

Webroot officials added a protective key code mechanism to Spy Sweeper with AntiVirus in order to discourage users from abusing the firm’s single-installation license. The different product versions will be tracked by Webroot’s servers based on these user-entered key codes, Eschelbeck explained.

When Spy Sweeper with Antivirus downloads the latest spyware and virus signatures, Webroot’s servers will check the product key codes in order to detect unauthorized installations.

Eschelbeck did not clarify what would happen if Webroot’s servers encounter the same key code on multiple computers. The obvious option for a company concerned about this issue is to prevent the application from retrieving product updates, but that also disables the product’s functionality.

Vista Compatible

Webroot capitalized on Microsoft’s decision to permit third-party security vendors to link their products to core components of the upcoming Vista operating system, Eschelbeck noted.

“We have a Vista product version running in our labs now. We are working with Microsoft to have the same code base,” he said.

Microsoft has not done much to change the code of its 32-bit version of Vista, he observed, but the 64-bit version of Vista will present Webroot with important challenges when it comes to access permission functions.

Spy Sweeper with Antivirus retails for $39.95. A tiered license package called the “Family Pack,” which sells for $49.95, allows users to install the product on up to three computers.

The original Spy Sweeper costs $29.95 for a single-computer installation.

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