Panda Software supplements a network's security

Pros and cons:
+        Compatible with existing virus
protection; daily virus updates
–        Works only with Microsoft Outlook and
Exchange
–        Updates require much user interaction


Real-life requirements:
Win95 and Outlook or Exchange





When it comes to computer viruses, you can’t be too careful.


Panda Software has a virus scanner that installs itself seamlessly into Microsoft
Outlook or Exchange and gives good virus protection plus something few scanner programs
can boast: It gets along with other antivirus software.


Putting two such programs on the same machine is usually a recipe for disaster. Each
interprets the other program’s scanning as a possible virus attack, and then they
start fighting for control of the CPU. I’ve seen systems that lock up the first time
they boot with two antivirus programs and stubbornly refuse to work thereafter.


When I put Panda Antivirus onto a computer in the GCN Lab, I first uninstalled the
existing Symantec Corp. Norton AntiVirus program.


Panda Antivirus installed quickly from two floppy disks. Users without CD-ROM drives
should have no trouble getting it up and running. My test system runs Outlook as the
default mail program, and Panda integrated itself into Outlook, adding four new buttons to
the task bar.


Once Panda was in place, I tentatively reinstalled the main virus scanner. To my
surprise, the programs coexisted peacefully without so much as a system error or any
noticeable performance drop.


Even when you install Panda Antivirus on a computer already running another antivirus
program, there are no conflicts. I installed it on three computers with different
antivirus programs and had no conflicts.


Panda Antivirus does not claim to be a full-fledged virus solution. It does not scan
disks and can’t do anything about a virus already resident on a computer. What it
does is add an extra level of security to one of the most vulnerable places on a network:
e-mail attachments.


A simple text e-mail cannot carry a virus, but any number of viruses can lurk in
attached files. Most antivirus scanners do a good job of checking e-mail for viruses, and
some do better than others. Panda specializes in scanning e-mail and attached files.


It spots all the leading viruses including Microsoft Word macro viruses. And it scans
all internal and external e-mail, as long as everything goes through Outlook or Exchange.


If Panda Antivirus finds a virus, you can set it to automatically notify the person who
sent the file, the network administrator and any other users you designate.


The messages are fully customizable and can say anything from “Please help me,
I’ve got a virus,” to “Virus detected on network, please scan your
drives.”


Even though Panda specializes in e-mail, it’s a powerful program.


As a test, I embedded a file that was compressed and then recompressed by a different
program. Then I sent the file as an attachment to the computer running the Panda
protection software.


Panda Antivirus scanned the main file, hidden under three levels of compression and
embedding.


The program is certified by the International Computer Security Association, so it
should be able to detect all current viruses on the Internet.


Its best feature is what makes it such a good supplemental protection program. Most
antivirus programs give monthly updates, but Panda Antivirus can update your virus
profiles every day.


Visit the Web pages at http://pandasoftware.com
and type in a password to get the newest profiles. I would rather see Panda Software
create a seamless interface so the computer could do this in background without bothering
the user. But the Web page interface is functional, and the company updates the database
every night at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time.


Panda may not be a total virus solution, but as a supplemental antivirus utility,
it’s attractive for its daily updates and rigorous scanning of e-mail.


In a networked office environment where people forward files all the time, attached
viruses can spread like wildfire. Panda Antivirus acts as a fire hose for those who
already have a sprinkler system. 

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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