Panda Security is promising a revolution in computer security by launching a global beta of the world's first cloud-based anti-virus application.

The free application, called Panda Cloud Anti-virus, uses thin-client agent and server architecture that is claimed to process and block malware more efficiently than traditional, locally-installed signature-based products.

Panda claims that its security package - which includes local and remote antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-rootkit, heuristics and goodware cache - consumes an average of 17MB of RAM and has 50 per cent less impact on PC performance than today's AV products.

Herd immunity

Panda Cloud Anti-virus also uses Panda's global community of "millions of users" to automatically identify and classify new malware strains in almost real-time. The more people use Panda Cloud Antivirus, the better protected everybody is.

Each new file received by Panda's proprietary cloud computing technology called Collective Intelligence is automatically classified in under six minutes. The servers automatically receive and classify over 50,000 new samples every day - so that users never have to download new virus signatures.

Panda Cloud Anti-virus performs several different types of scans. An On-Access scan applies only to files that are being executed or used, while a Pre-fetch scan launches an asynchronous local and cloud query on files that are being moved, copied or accessed, to scan them "as soon as possible" without impacting performance.

Finally, a Background scan is run continuously on unused, background files in an asynchronous manner while the PC is idle, purportedly without impacting performance at all.

It sounds like a great idea and we'll be reviewing the free AV software-as-a-service as soon as possible. If you want to sign up for the beta or for an early download, head on over to www.cloudantivirus.com.