Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd, the Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific distributor of the world’s leading free anti-virus software, is today announcing AVG LinkScanner as a free standalone product to protect users against random, invisible online threats.

On any given day, some two million web pages are poisoned by hidden threats. And every day, 60 percent of those threats shut down or move to a different destination on the web – which makes real-time link scanning crucial. Any type of site can be affected, from a small business to a government department to a major brand-name company. If a user simply visits one of these poisoned web pages they don’t even need to click on anything to get into real trouble, to lose their credit card details, their ID or other valuable information or files. Regular anti-virus software alone cannot protect against this type of threat.

AVG LinkScanner gives users an additional real-time layer of protection on top of their existing security software. It works by looking at the web page behind a link or a web address typed into a browser and analysing whether it harbours a threat. If it does, then AVG LinkScanner stops the user from downloading that page. This means that, for the first time, Windows XP and Vista users can truly know whether it is safe to click on a link at the only time that matters – when they click on it.

“It’s our belief that every computer user has the right to basic security protection, regardless of the ability to pay,” said J R Smith, AVG Technologies’ CEO. “These dangerous web pages threaten to disrupt the very fabric of the internet as well as how we view and use it, posing an even bigger threat to users than viruses. Our 80 million users are already protected by AVG LinkScanner, which has been an essential part of our suite of security products for some time. So now we’re making it available to users of other major security software brands, who just don’t have the same degree of protection. Now any PC user can surf and search the web with confidence and without fear of losing their ID, bank account information, credit card details, valuable files and information to cybercrooks.”

AVG LinkScanner also applies this targeted analysis of web pages to search results from Google, Yahoo! and MSN. Whenever users search using these search engines, they will see safety rankings for all ‘organic’ search results. In addition, the AVG LinkScanner will scan users‘ bookmarks as well as links contained in instant messages and emails before they open them to ensure the links are safe.

The AVG LinkScanner Advantage
AVG LinkScanner’s unique ability to analyse web links in real-time enables AVG to deliver far more accurate and relevant protection than other safe-surfing solutions. Checking the safety of a page at the precise time the user is about to click to it is crucial in today’s world of transient threats. Relying on information about a web site’s relative safety days or weeks in the past cannot protect users against threats that remain in one place for less than 24 hours, and so AVG has rejected the traditional approach of relying on information about sites previously found to have been poisoned.

Unlike other solutions, AVG LinkScanner analyses individual pages on a web site to generate a rating for those pages. Imagine that one or two pages on a vast site like Facebook or MySpace are being used to spread malware. If a safe-surfing solution only rates entire sites based on what it finds on a couple of pages, a bad rating on those one or two poisoned pages would result in blocking users’ access to any of their friends’ pages on that site.

“The Web has become the primary distribution mechanism for viruses (and other malware), drive-by downloads and other stealthy web threats which represent vast majority of attacks,” said AVG Technologies CTO Karel Obluk. “So we’ve evolved our product range to put greater emphasis on combating this more insidious and dangerous form of attack. AVG LinkScanner is at the front line of this additional protective layer. By making this layer freely available, it’s our goal to give users the confidence to always feel safe when they go online.”

Neighborhood Watch Research
AVG’s ‘neighborhood watch’ approach to AVG LinkScanner research also increases the product’s ability to provide relevant protection to users – putting the protection where users actually go and when they go there, rather than trying to map and secure the entire Internet. The LIVE Intelligence Network has for the past five years focused solely on this area of evolving threats through the combined resources of:

• a global team of expert human researchers and a network of ‘hunting pots’
• an intelligent filter for known and suspected threat distribution sites and mechanisms
• automated threat encounter feedback, ensuring focus on real-world threats that affect real users

AVG LinkScanner aggregates intelligence gained through these three channels, correlates it in real time, and integrates it back into the threat analysis process to continually improve user protection.

Other tricks are being developed all the time, and users should not assume they are safe if some other pop-up appears while they’re surfing the web or downloading files. Running AVG LinkScanner will protect users against new as well as existing forms of social engineering trickery.

Availability and System Requirements
AVG LinkScanner continues AVG Technologies‘ mission to deliver lightweight, easy-to-use solutions that don’t slow users’ computers down and provide robust protection as soon as they’re installed. The software is free for use on any personal home computer for non-commercial purposes. It can be downloaded from http://linkscanner.avg.com. Support is available through a free online forum hosted by AVG at http://freeforum.avg.com.

AVG LinkScanner runs under all current versions of Windows XP and Vista, both 32- and 64-bit. The software is compatible with all major security software and with Internet Explorer 6 or later and Firefox 2 or later browsers. AVG LinkScanner is available today in English and will be available in Bahasa, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Traditional & Simplified),Czech, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish from mid May.

Keep in touch with AVG
For up-to-the-minute news on the latest cyberthreats:
• Subscribe to AVG Chief Research Officer Roger Thompson’s blog at http://thompson.blog.avg.com/
For general AVG updates
• Follow AVG on Twitter @officialavgnews.com
• Register at www.avgnews.com

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AVG has announced AVG LinkScanner as a free standalone product to protect users against random, invisible online threats. AVG LinkScanner gives users an additional real-time layer of protection on top of their existing security software.

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