Panda is one of the best and most successful companies in the Internet Security industry. They claim that their new Cloud Antivirus program is light, easy, secure and free. In this article, we put it to the test using our real-world malware scenarios.
Panda Cloud Antivirus uses a cloud-based protection system which collects and analyzes real-time information from users around the world and instantly distributes critical information about emerging malware threats. This means no waiting for virus definition updates, new information is instantly available.
It comes in both a free and a pro edition. The pro edition adds improved support, automatic USB vaccination, and immediate access to program improvements.
The installation of Panda Cloud Antivirus is exceptionally easy. Download the free software and press “Accept & Install” and that’s it! The program then asks if you want the free or the pro edition. We’ll be trying out the free edition in this article.
The interface is incredibly simple. The main interface shows only overall system status, a button for running scans, a button for reports, and a button for quarantined files (confusingly referred to as recycle bin). We find this extreme simplicity refreshing. There is a small button in the bottom right-hand corner which gives access to advanced configuration options, but few home users of free antivirus will need to access these often.
The other component to Panda Cloud is a toolbar which will be installed on any browsers you have. This toolbar is slightly intrusive as it wants to change your default search to Yahoo!, and takes up real estate in your browser window but it is optional and can easily be removed without compromising either Panda’s antivirus capability or its URL filtering.
Don't Try This at Home!
We first test antivirus software by visiting new, malicious websites which will try to infect to our test computers. These websites are the most common infections we see in the field. We will then test Panda’s scanning capabilities against a tough collection of infected files. This is extremely dangerous behavior which you should never attempt to replicate. We don’t mention the URL of the websites we visit, just the type of exploit used there or the origin of the site.
Drive-by Website Analysis
Panda Cloud had absolutely fantastic performance in this area. The cloud-based rules combined with URL filtering effectively prevents your browser from visiting malicious websites even when you click on the link. Let’s go on to test Cloud’s scanning utilities against our tough set of recent malware.
Malware 100 Analysis
We unzipped a file of 100 recent malware files. These are newly found unwanted programs, infected .dlls, and trojans. This is a tough test for any antivirus. While unzipping the archive Panda detected and either removed or neutralized 81 of these files. This did result in quite a few separate popups notifying us of threats removed, and asking us to click several times to delete files.
Manual scanning of the folder resulted in the deletion of an additional 16 files, leaving only 3. These were all in the category of potentially unwanted programs. Great result for Panda Antivirus!
We then installed Malwarebytes and ran a system scan to see if Panda Cloud missed anything. The scan completed with no infections.
Panda’s claims that their Cloud Antivirus product is light, easy, secure and free were verified in our basic testing. The product installed quickly, took few system resources to run, and was extremely easy to use. The built-in URL filtering prevented us from visiting zero-day malware sites, and when we downloaded infected files, they were immediately neutralized. Our test set of infected files was almost completely neutralized, but there were a large number of desktop notifications we had to click through in order to complete removal of all infected files.
Many users will miss having the kind of advanced configuration options present in more complete solutions, but for free basic security, Panda Cloud is a solid performer.