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By 10 October 2012 | Categories: interviews

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This time of year sees the release of a number of new internet security packages. TechSmart talked to Peter Aleshkin, senior consumer marketing manager at Kaspersky Lab, about some of the new features on their products; paid vs. free antivirus; and the impact of the Flame virus on security packages.

TechSmart: Kaspersky Internet Security (KIS) 2013's Automatic Exploit Prevention technology seems interesting. How does it recognise unauthorised activity in programs that was not created by Kaspersky? Is it connected to your Cloud Protection?

Peter Aleshkin: It is common for malicious programs to exploit vulnerabilities in popular applications such as Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, and Firefox to try to gain control over the computer and to steal your personal data. KIS 2013 includes a new technology, Automatic Exploit Prevention, to prevent and block such exploits.

Automatic Exploit Prevention takes control over the launch of executable files including web browsers, if any vulnerabilities are found, or from applications which are not intended for the launch of executable files.

If executable files are launched, their activities are checked for any signs of exploit behavior. Control is then taken of any activities performed by an application where a vulnerability is detected to ensure the most effective protection, all information (i.e. list of applications with detected vulnerabilities, control over the launching of executable files from applications) is updatable.

Lastly, the automatic exploit prevention technology is not connected to cloud protection.

How does the new Safe Money functionality differ from Safe Run for Websites from KIS 2012?

According to Kaspersky Lab's surveys, users would like to feel extra secure while using their credit cards to pay for purchases online. Safe Browser was designed to isolate potentially dangerous sites from the 'clean' computer. Safe Money mode is designed to create a special secure environment that would be isolated from a potentially infected computer. In other words, we have taken an opposite approach to security, based on the users' preferences and the current evolution of threats.

Safe Money technology contains a diverse set of protection methods for when you deal with real money online. Such activities may include making purchases online, working with an electronic payment system like PayPal, or accessing your bank account from your computer. Available in Kaspersky Internet Security 2013, this new feature provides enhanced protection for your banking operations.

Safe Money enables your device to automatically switch to a special 'Safe Browser' mode when you visit banking websites. This isolates your payment operation from other online activities to ensure your transaction is not monitored by anyone. It also activates automatically when visiting the most common payment websites, and you can easily add your own bank or shopping website to the list.

Another benefit of the Safe Money feature is that it checks the authenticity of the payment website itself to ensure the site isn't compromised or fraudulent. Safe Money evaluates the security status of your computer, and warns users about significant threats that should be addressed prior to making any payments online. The virtual keyboard also ensures tamper-proof entry of your password or credit card number - this feature has been incorporated into the new 2013 product to ensure consumers are always protected when they make payments online.

Why should people pay for an antivirus package when there are free options available?

This is a question often asked - the reality is that even though there are many free antivirus software packages available to download from the internet, in most cases these products don't have all the required features for your device's protection. However, the worst aspect of using free software is that it is not co-ordinated to an expert provider and therefore when an issue arises the user's device can be at high risk of infection. Therefore the complex, multi-layered cyber cure is needed.

With the Flame virus it seems like governments are involved in creating viruses that are very difficult to detect. How is Kaspersky Lab addressing this situation, since it seems like regular Internet Security packages are not capable of detecting these threats?

Conventional antivirus/ internet security technologies are generally ineffective against malware created by attackers with huge resources, such as nation states. The feature that differentiates a sophisticated professional cyber-espionage tool like Flame is the fact that their developers create something new and outstanding, something that is invisible for user and security software, something that is hard to be detected in the 'wild'. Therefore, in addition to running a fully updated security suite, we can make a number of recommendations to users which greatly improves their security and prevents infections even with such powerful malware:

  • Ensure all software is updated at all times, including third party software.
  • Use a unique password for every online resource; make sure the password is strong, at least 12 characters in length and contains numbers and symbols.
  • Practice safe computing - do not open attachments from unknown senders and avoid publishing private information on social networks.
  • Use encryption for sensitive data - for instance, full disk encryption for notebooks.
  • Always have a backup in case of any unforeseen disasters.

In addition to these, we are deploying several new technologies which are designed to counteract targeted attacks. The newly introduced Advanced Exploit Prevention from Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 makes many of today's attacks ineffective by preventing them from function. This also applies to zero-day, "unknown" exploits.

The new Kaspersky packages are Windows 8 compatible and include the Kaspersky Now application for Windows 8 PCs. What exactly does this app do?

Absolutely, Kaspersky Lab offers full protection for Windows 8 users in the new 2013 products. Regarding Kaspersky Now, it gives Windows 8 users a quick overview of their PC's security status and makes it possible to launch key features of Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 directly from the new user interface. This app is available free of charge in the Windows Store.

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