avast!, a popular security solution best known for its excellent free anti-virus , has recently released a new v7 — and it brings juicy changes:
New Technologies in Version 7
Hybrid Cloud Technologies
New Streaming, real-time virus database updates
Now you get each virus signature sent to you in real-time via connection to the AVAST Virus Lab cloud, rather than needing to wait for a traditional database update. Your database will be continuously updated with latest definitions.
New File reputation system
FileRep lets you know whether a file is safe before you open it – determined in part by how many people have the file and how new the file is. The technology is also used internally, to help the scanning engine make more intelligent decisions.
New Protective Features
Suspicious programs are now automatically placed inside the avast! Sandbox. When the program finishes, a comprehensive report is generated and, based on the program’s behavior, you are given a recommendation on how to treat it in the future.
Improved Browser Sandboxing
Enabled by a single click of the mouse, it allows you to completely isolate the browser from the rest of the system – even if the browser gets hijacked, your system stays clean.
The version 7 WebRep browser plugins provide greater protection against phishing sites, including heuristics detection of new phishing sites. Also, we can now detect fake/planted SSL certificates, preventing man-in-the-middle attacks against https sites.
Additionally, we have extended browser support to Apple™ Safari™.
Available only in Pro Antivirus and Internet Security, our SafeZone™, your ultimate clean and secure window for financial transactions, now auto-prompts you and moves to the SafeZone from your regular browser.
New AVAST Management Portal
Your web-based AVAST Account portal is your personal directory for all your avast! related data. It allows you to track all your avast! installations, complete with their health data, status information, and useful statistics. And it’s multiplatform, allowing you to manage avast! installations on both Windows and Mac computers, as well as Android devices.
New Remote Assistance
Our new Remote Assistance tool lets you initiate remote support from any ‘geek’ among your friends or family who agrees to help. Initiated by you, it routes through AVAST’s servers, bypasses firewalls, and can be terminated by you at any time. You will never have to ask for help over the phone again.
Improved Easy-to-use user interface
The avast! user interface has been optimized to be more intuitive. Novices will find it easy to use, while experts are still able to customize every aspect of the software to their individual needs.
New Customizable installation
Your avast! software can now be installed in Compatibility Mode, meaning that it will run perfectly along with your other antivirus software to act as a second line of defense. And even if you install avast! in normal mode, you are given the possibility to install the components you really need.
Now even faster AND less resource-hungry
Independent tests showed that avast! 6 was one of the fastest and least resource-intensive antivirus products available. We made version 7 even better: this is our best-performing product ever.
Windows 8 Beta compatible
avast! 7 runs great on Windows 8 and even has some cool new Windows 8 specific features, such as the Early-Load Antimalware Driver (ELAM), which snaps into the Windows 8 Secure Boot process to provide additional protection against system-level rootkits and bootkits.
[Above description as per the developer.]
Of course all the features mentioned above are not for avast! Free Antivirus. avast! Free Antivirus, whiile providing excellent protection, doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as avast! Pro Antivirus and avast! Internet Security. Aside from the performance improvements (it will be interesting to see how much avast! has improved in the fourth edition of dotTech’s Best free anti-virus/anti-malware program for Windows  article), in my opinion the most interesting new features for avast! Free Antivirus are the FileRep and Remote Assistance capabilities
In regards to FileRep, I’m not totally sure how useful it will be considering that avast! should already be flagging malicious files – prior to people opening them – via its active guard. So telling someone the “reputation” of a file before they open it seems like a useless redundancy — it would be a lot more useful if reputations were given prior to download. That said, however, I haven’t used FileRep yet so it may be implemented in a way that makes it more useful than I make it sound.
The new Remote Assistance feature is very interesting because it doesn’t seem like a feature an antivirus would have. Remote access has typically been the realm of standalone programs like TeamViewer . I haven’t used Remote Assistance yet so I cannot say for sure how it compares to TeamViewer; but it surely will give TeamViewer a run for its money considering it could save business users a lot of money coupling remote access with anti-virus.
Update: It seems like avast! 7 may be more buggy than hoped. Many dotTechies – see comments  below – are reporting issues with avast! 7. If you are on avast! 6 you may want to stay there until these bugs with avast! 7 have been fixed. Personally speaking, I was planning on upgrading to avast! 7 but now will wait until avast irons out the issues.
If you already have avast! 6 (or lower) you can upgrade to avast! 7 from within the program itself. If you don’t already have avast!, you can grab avast! 7 Free Antivirus from the links below; when installing, just note avast! comes bundled with Google Chrome — don’t install that if you don’t want it:
Download size: 71.4 MB
Supported OS: Windows 2000 Pro and higher