Free antivirus - avast! 4 Home Edition
avast! 4 Home/Professional Revision History
September 25, 2006
- avast! is now finally compatible with Windows Vista RC1; also, the "remediations" in Vista Security Center are now functional
- added CHM unpacker (and this time, as an extra benefit, it should work even in the boot-time scanner)
fixed a bug in the UPX unpacker
- added a couple of new Win32 unpackers
- added a workaround to problems with compatibility with Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall (remaints of menus on the screen + seldom hang of avast program on start)
- no more attempts to delete files on read-only media
- improved detection of ZoneAlarm Pro (to prevent unnecessary WebShield incompatibility warnings)
- avast! screen-saver now uses better algorithm to remember the last scan position
- added Swedish and Slovenian language versions
The latest version of avast! antivirus kernel features outstanding detection abilities, together with high performance. You can expect 100% detection of In-the-Wild viruses (viruses already spreading between users) and excellent detection of Trojan horses.
The kernel is certified by ICSA; and frequently takes part in the tests of Virus Bulletin magazine, often yielding the VB100 award.
The avast! engine also features outstanding unpacking support. It can scan inside the following archives: ARJ, ZIP, MIME (+ all associated formats), MAPI (Outlook pst files), DBX (Outlook Express archives), RAR, TAR, GZIP, CAB, BZIP2, ZOO, ACE, ARC, LHA/LHX, TNEF (winmail.dat), CPIO, CHM, RPM, ISO, 7ZIP and SIS. It also supports a number of executable packers (such as PKLite, Diet, UPX, ASPack, PeShield, FSG, MEW etc.).
Last, but not least, it can also scan for viruses hidden in Alternate data streams on NTFS volumes.
The Simple User Interface is used to start on-demand scanning, work with the results and change various options. Basic resident protection settings can be modified here.
The Simple User Interface is the main application of avast! 4 Home Edition. You can start additional avast! modules from here, such as the Virus Chest, Updater or Log Viewer.
The appearance of the Simple User Interface is very flexible. It supports so-called skins, allowing users to change the appearance of the application interface. The main package contains three skins, with additional skins available from avast.com
Standard resident protection
Resident protection (the real-time protection of the operating system), is one of the most important parts of an antivirus program today. avast! features a powerful resident module that is able to detect a virus before it has any chance to infect your computer.
avast! Home Edition contains resident protection of the computer file system and a resident module for e-mails and news.
File system protection ensures that no virus will be started on the computer. It offers a wide range of settings, such as the possible to specify that files will be scanned during copying, or that the scanning will include files with given set of extensions only.
E-mail/News protection consists of two independent modules; first, there is a generic scanner working on the SMTP/POP3/IMAP4/NNTP protocol level. It is capable of protecting any existing e-mail client that uses these protocols. Second, there is a special plugin for MS Outlook only; the mail scanning is completely transparent, requiring no special settings.
A new feature of version 4 is heuristic analysis of e-mail scanners. This feature can protect against new, unknown viruses and worms that are not possible to detect by the usual means. The heuristic module performs a thorough investigation of every e-mail message and watches for suspicious signs, that might announce virus presence. When the number of those signs exceeds a user-defined level, the message is considered dangerous and the user is warned.
P2P and IM Shields
Avast features a module for the protection of IM (Instant Messaging, "chat") programs, and a module for the protection of P2P (peer-to-peer) programs. The list of supported IM and P2P programs is extensive with more than 30 programs currently supported.
While chat itself would not impose any serious security risks in terms of viruses, today's IM applications are far from being just chatting tools: most of them support more or less sophisticated file sharing methods - which may quite easily lead to virus infections, if not properly monitored.
The P2P protection module doesn't need much explanation - on today's P2P networks (such as Kazaa) there are thousands of infected files, and an effective protection is a must.
A new resident protection module was added to avast! 4.5: the Network Shield. This module provides protection against known Internet worms/attacks. It analyses all network traffic and scans it for malicious contents. It can be viewed as a lightweight firewall (or more precisely, an IDS (Intrusion Detection System)).
The Network Shield is only available on NT-based systems (Windows NT/2000/XP/2003).
The Network Shield is only available on NT-based systems (Windows NT/2000/XP/2003).
Web Shield is a unique feature of avast! that enables it to monitor and filter all HTTP traffic coming from the Web sites on the Internet. Since an increasing number of viruses (and other malware, such as adware, spyware and dialers) are being distributed via the World Wide Web, the need for an effective countermeasures has also increased. The Web Shield acts as a transparent HTTP proxy and is compatible with all major web browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, FireFox, Mozilla and Opera.
Unlike most competitive solutions, Web Shield's impact on browsing speed is almost negligible. This is because of a unique feature called "Intelligent Stream Scan" that lets the Web Shield module scan objects on-the-fly, without the need of caching them locally. Stream scanning is performed in operating memory only (without the necessity to flush the contents to disk), providing maximum possible throughput rates.
Automatic updates are another need in virus protection. Both the virus database and the program itself can be updated automatically. The updates are incremental, with only new or missing data downloaded: thus reducing the transfer heavily. The typical size of a virus database update are tens of KB; program updates are typically in the hundreds of KB range.
If your Internet connection is persistent, the updates are performed completely automatically at fixed time intervals. If you connect to the Internet only occasionally, avast! watches your connection and tries to perform the update when you are online.
Having an up-to-date virus database and antivirus program is the most certain way to protect your computer.
The Virus Chest can be thought of as a folder on your disk drive, having special properties that make it a safe, isolated place suitable for storing certain files. You can work with the files in the Chest, though with some security restrictions.
The main properties of the Virus Chest are complete isolation from the rest of the operating system. No outside process, such as a virus, may access the files inside, and the fact that the files inside the Chest may not be run (executable), there is no danger in storing viruses there.
avast! antivirus features outstanding integration into your system. A scan can be started directly from Windows Explorer, by clicking a folder or a file with your right mouse button and selecting the corresponding choice from the menu.
A special screen-saver is also provided, that, when running, performs virus scanning. avast! antivirus works together with your favorite screen-saver, so you don't have to change your personal settings to use it.
A new option with this release is the boot-time scan (Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 only). This important feature allows a user to instigate scanning before a virus is activated, in the case that a virus is suspected to be active on your computer already.
Integrated avast! Virus Cleaner
Since version 4.1, avast! includes the Virus Cleaner, a tool designed for a complete removal of most common infections from already-infected computers. So now is avast! capable even to reliably heal (not only detect) the most common malware.
The number of viruses/worms supported by the Virus Cleaner is constantly growing. For the most up-to-date information we suggest to visit Cleaner's own page (for emergency purposes we also offer the Virus Cleaner as a standalone product, capable of running without installed avast).
Support for 64-bit Windows
avast! Home/Professional now fully supports the 64-bit Windows platform. ALWIL Software is anticipating massive take-up of this platform, as Windows XP 64-Bit Edition will support up to 32 GB of RAM and 16 TB of virtual memory, enabling applications to run faster when working with large data sets. Applications can preload substantially more data into virtual memory, allowing rapid access by the 64-bit extensions of the processor. This reduces the time for loading data into virtual memory or seeking, reading, and writing to data storage devices, making applications run faster and more efficiently.
Regular (32-bit) antivirus applications are unable to operate correctly on the 64-bit Windows platform because they rely on 32-bit kernel-mode drivers. The new avast! uses native 64-bit drivers, delivering the same level of protection as in the 32-bit Windows environments. The installation package is the same for 32-bit and 64-bit versions - the setup program automatically detects the operating system it is running on, and installs all necessary files. You may find more information on avast! Antivirus and Windows x64 Edition page.
Commitment to internationalization is one of the key benefits of avast!. During the last 2 years, avast! has been translated to a number of languages and the latest version added additional language modules. Currently the list of supported languages is: English, Bulgarian, Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish.