It is perhaps an idea whose time has come. Immunet is not the first cloud based antivirus (do you recall the Panda Cloud antivirus?). There have been other cloud based antivirus software before it. But it definitely can lay claim to be the first anti-virus which collectively harnesses the power of the World Wide Web community.
How exactly Immunet does so using the cloud is the first part of the Immunet story. How effective is its clout, is the second part.
To those who have come in late, here’s the Internet nuance of the term – cloud computing.
The term “˜Cloud’ is basically a figure of speech for the Internet itself. It generally covers services which can be hosted and delivered over the internet. The user just needs the hardware (a computer) and bandwidth. The software and services are provided by the vendor. This allows a user to interact with the software/service from anywhere. The term cloud computing came symbolically from the cloud drawing that’s commonly used to indicate the Internet in graphics and diagrams.
The Men behind Immunet
A critical cloud antivirus product like Immunet needs a stamp of credibility. That’s given by its developers – Oliver Friedrichs (former Director at Symantec) and Alfred Huger (former McAfee and Symantec executive). Both are gurus in the field of internet security.
The Premise of Immunet
Cloud computing is not a new fangled concept anymore. Google Apps is perhaps the most in-our-face example we have today. Or even the online games we enjoy. Though cloud computing has its own set of pros (scalability, maintenance free) and cons (security, privacy), it is starting to offer new ways to do hitherto desktop based tasks.
Immunet takes this approach one step further by bringing the web community on board in the defense against malware and viruses. Citing the fact that a collective defense against virtual scourges is better than a standalone rearguard fight, it best defines what it does ““
Imagine for a moment that you could link to the computers of your friends, family and a global community to harness the collective security of all these systems put together. Every time someone in this collective community encounters a threat, everyone else in the community gains protection from that same threat in real time.
Immunet works on four fronts ““
- Cloud computing
- Community based protection
- Collective wisdom
- Coincidental with installed antivirus
Immunet in Action
- Immunet (ver1.0.10) is free, light and hassle free to install. The 4.25MB application can be downloaded and installed in a flash. Ideal system OS are – Microsoft Windows XP (SP2 or later), Vista and Windows 7 (RC 32Bit only).
- The Immunet interface is clean and minimal sans complicated settings. The application loads and exists without noticeable lag.
- Immunet can run alongside Norton Antivirus (versions 2008, 2009 and 2010). Also supported are AVG Pro (v8.5) and MacAfee 2009. Other antivirus software are not specifically mentioned but it’s assumed that they can be run unless bugs crop up. (For instance, I am running it with Avast!)
- On installation Immunet starts off with a Flash Scan. Flash scan is a rapid-fire initial system scan. This is not a comprehensive system wide scan. On my system, completion of the Flash Scan showed 2804 files checked in 1 minute 39 seconds. A later, full scan went over 3300 files in 3 minutes 12 seconds.
- Immunet features only one type of scan. Individual files or drives cannot be scanned individually. But Immunet does offer one feature – Protection Settings when enabled allow you to monitor application installations and starts. An Active Protection Mode takes a few seconds to check and block program installations unless they are deemed to be safe. You can switch these settings on-off from Settings.
- CPU footprint is very minimal. On my system it was around 25 – 27KB while scanning.
Circle Your Wagons with Immunet
The sum of parts is greater than the whole. The Immunet cloud is at the center of the harnessing this community power. With your internet connection you are always connected to the cloud (i.e. the data center). The cloud aggregates virus definitions and every user taps into this security umbrella. This is Immunet’s version of collective immunity.
If one user in the social chain gets threatened by a virus, this information passes through the cloud to the others in the circle. The threat is identified and neutralized at the central server. Immunet protection thus kicks in for the entire community. This inter-linked detection and cure happens in real time. Thus every user shares in the collective wisdom gathered from each virus attack.
The community is built up through your existing Facebook account or a new Immunet account. (The Facebook button wasn’t working for me though).After logging in, the community building process works similar to social networks. Invite others from your Facebook, Google, Yahoo accounts or using Email. A broader based group should translate to more effective protection. Even if you do not log-in, you get the default protection offered by the Immunet global community.
So, will you bet on Immunet?
Cloud computing has inherent advantages and some prominent drawbacks as well. With the server doing the bulk of work, you don’t have to worry about updates. Centralized updates removes the risk of bloatware. The software is light and low on system resources. The community based protection is a good idea in theory. Its real power will be realized only when greater numbers log-in. Its early days”¦last figures suggest 1,800 users were logged in and were protected from 3.5 million threats.
The real disadvantage of Immunet is true for everything that’s on the cloud. Dependency on bandwidth comes at a premium in some places. For a high-priority need such as an antivirus, effective protection is the absolute bottom line.
The one singular feature (though traditionally people advise against it) of Immunet is that it can ride along with our existing antivirus solution. Thus, when it’s time to circle the wagons, Immunet can gallop in and along with the other antivirus, give double barreled cover.
If industry experts reckon that more than two million viruses will be created in 2009 alone and established protection has a 50-50 chance of catching all of them, then Immunet becomes a vital addition to our defense armory. The numbers may not match up, but even if a few sneak in they can become wreckers in chief.
With the first version label, it’s early days yet. But will you be a part of the community?