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Today, after 7 months of beta testing, we are launching CounterSpy V2, our next generation antispyware product. The launch is timed to coincide with the RSA conference (I’m currently at this show.)

There’s a lot to be said about this new version, but the key features are:

  • Hybrid engine — CounterSpy uses a new hybrid engine, which incorporates our traditional antispyware engine with VIPRE, our new antivirus technology. Why would we put an antivirus engine into CounterSpy? It’s simple: It allows us to do a better job of catching and removing spyware. These days, spyware is increasingly complex and blended, and VIPRE gives a “turbo boost” to the CounterSpy technology. The VIPRE(tm) version that’s in CounterSpy is 1.2, which is basic. In a few months, we’ll add VIPRE 2.0, which is even more evolved.

    VIPRE itself will ultimately branch out to become a stand-alone antivirus product, competing with the other major AV players (the philosophy of VIPRE and of our strategy is outlined in my earlier blog post here — and it’s worth reading if you want to understand our strategy.)

    Note that CounterSpy V2 is not a stand-alone antivirus product. For example, a full antivirus product scans incoming email, which CounterSpy does not. In addition, the VIPRE version that is in CounterSpy doesn’t support DOS viruses, macro viruses, and the like — which are more in the domain of a typical AV product. However, if you run CounterSpy alongside your traditional AV product, you’ll get an amazingly thorough coverage of all the possible threats that you might get. And yes, CounterSpy works fine running alongside any AV product.

  • It’s faster and more efficient — The underlying engine has been re-written for faster performance. I think you’ll find the performance improvements are quite remarkable. This thing is fast and unobtrusive.
  • Kernel-level Active Protection — Counterspy’s Active Protection(tm) now resides in the kernel — the core of the operating system. This means that we can stop threats before they have a chance to execute. This protection is both behavioral (meaning, it looks for potentially dangerous activities) as well as signature-based (meaning, it looks for threats based on unique signatures in our database). It’s very powerful and can be set to how aggressive you want it to be. For example, if you don’t want a lot of warnings about possible threats, you can set it to it at the “Trusting” setting. But if you want to know as much as possible as to what changes are occurring on your system, you can set it to a tighter security setting. It’s pretty cool.
  • FirstScan — CounterSpy V2 also has FirstScan technology, which scans certain locations of the drive and removes malware prior to Windows launching. Triggered through a CounterSpy system scan, FirstScan(tm) does its work directly to the disk, bypassing Windows APIs, right about the time that chkdsk would run. (FirstScan will only run when CounterSpy finds suspicious files).
  • Vista support — CounterSpy V2 supports Vista 32 bit and integrates with the Vista Security Center. Also, if you are doing an upgrade from XP to Vista and have CounterSpy V2 installed on your system, CounterSpy will automatically work in the new environment without needing to download a new version. This release supports Vista 32–bit and in the forthcoming months, we’ll add support for 64–bit.

You can read more shameless propaganda here.

One final note: The effort to make CounterSpy V2 run on Windows 98SE and ME would have been herculean. In the end, we decided that V2 could not support Win 98SE and ME. Instead, users of these older platforms can run version 1.5, which is still available and will continue to be supported with definition updates.

So if you have a chance, give CounterSpy V2 a whirl and let me know your thoughts. I’m very curious to know what you think.

Alex Eckelberry