A major update to Panda Cloud Antivirus today provides more robust protection for fans of the lightweight security suite.
Available exclusively today from CNET Download.com, Panda Cloud Antivirus Free 2.0 (download) and Panda Cloud Antivirus Pro 2.0 (download) bring some welcome changes to Panda's security alternative. The Pro version now comes with a firewall that leverages Panda's community network and uses intrusion prevention signatures.
In version 2.0, people with Cloud Antivirus Free get access to the behavioral analysis engine that had previously been only in the Pro version. Other improvements in both versions include a better exposure of how Cloud Antivirus protects you when you're offline, a cloud-based disinfection protocol, and dramatic improvements in scan benchmarking. Panda representative Pedro Bustamante said that the scans in 2.0 are about "50 percent" faster than in version 1.6.
Along with the cloud-enhanced firewall, Cloud Antivirus Pro comes with tech support. The whole package will set you back $29.95, cheaper than many entry-level paid security suites by about $10.
While the changes are interesting, they're probably not going to result in a dramatic bump for Panda's market share. According to analysis firm Opswat, Panda accounted for 2.5 percent of the North American vendor market and 2.9 percent of the global vendor market in June 2012.
Had the company decided to make the firewall available in the free version, then it would be easier to see people taking a chance on Panda. It's a good product, but it still feels a bit anemic when compared to more established free suites like AVG and Avast, and Panda's cloud-based thin client doesn't have the name recognition of Microsoft's comparable Security Essentials.