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AVG snaps up behaviour-based threat detection firm

Sana move in uncertain times

Website security in corporate America

AVG, the net security firm best known for its free-of-charge anti-virus tool, has bought anti-ID theft software firm Sana Security. Financial terms of the deal, announced Tuesday, were undisclosed.

In a statement, the firms said that Sana’s behavioural threat detection will dovetail with AVG’s signature and heuristic-based technology to offer consumers comprehensive protection against ID theft and other online threats. San's Redwood City, California headquarters also give Czech Republic-based AVG a foothold in the US.

We can but hope the merger of technologies will go more smoothly than happened when AVG plugged LinkScanner, technology it obtained through its acquisition of Exploit Prevention Labs, into its core security software. The incorporation of LinkScanner into AVG version 8.0 last year sparked howls of protests from website administrators. The LinkScanner Search-Shield component scanned every page returned by a search query, using a user agent difficult if not impossible to distinguish from a regular surfer visiting a site using Internet Explorer.

This "traffic-spewing" behaviour threw site visitor statistics, particularly for sites with search engine ranking, while simultaneously increasing bandwidth costs.

AVG responded to criticism by modifying the technology so that it didn't pre-scan every page returned by a search query.

Separately, back in November AVG falsely identified a core Windows components and (days later) Adobe Flash as infected with malware following a succession of dodgy virus definition file updates.

Despite these slip-ups, which hurt its reputation in some quarters, AVG still boasts a user base of 80 million, according to company estimates, a figure that includes consumer users of the free edition of its security software.

New approaches to anti-malware protection, including white-listing of known good application and behaviour-based malware protection, are moving into vogue. AVG hopes to stay well ahead of these trends with the purchase of Sana. Other vendors - most notably Trend Micro, Panda and McAfee - are starting to use cloud computing techniques and the "wisdom of crowds" to deal with the problems created by the increasing rate of malware variant creation. ®

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