CA offers free antivirus to Vista testers

CA is offering free antivirus software for Windows Vista beta testers.

CA is offering free antivirus software to protect the latest Beta 2 release of Microsoft's Vista operating system.

Beta testers can now download a one-year trial subscription to CA's eTrust EZ Antivirus software, which the software vendor is billing as the first antivirus product for the next-generation operating system. The Beta 2 version of Vista was released Tuesday.

The free subscription gives users access to daily virus updates and Web-based technical support. It can be downloaded here:

CA normally charges US$29.99 per year for the security software, but the company sees the Vista beta process as a chance to get their product in the hands of an estimated 2 million potential customers, said Stefana Ribaudo-Muller, director of product development with CA.

Vista has about 500,000 beta testers at present, but Microsoft expects that number to grow in the coming weeks as it goes into a wider release.

There may not be many Vista virus updates for CA to do at present, however, as Vista has avoided the scrutiny of malware writers, who prefer to target more widely used operating systems.

Last August, a virus writer released a number of proof-of-concept viruses for the Monad scripting shell that is being designed for Microsoft's future operating systems, but Microsoft has since said that Monad is not expected to be included in the initial Vista release, scheduled for early 2007.

Because Microsoft has rewritten the underlying security mechanisms in Vista, CA's new product has required a fair amount of software engineering, Ribaudo-Muller said. Even so, beta users will probably want to run the antivirus software in Vista's more powerful administrator mode, to avoid being overwhelmed by popup Windows.

Vista, for example, requires administrator privileges to do things like clean up a virus from the computer, she said.

Separately CA also updated its eTrust Secure Content Manager security software on Wednesday. The new version 8 of the product has better administration and reporting features and works better with Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directories.

The Secure Content Manager acts as an Internet gateway, blocking e-mail and Web threats before they can get on the network. The software can also be used to ensure that confidential information is not sent out from within corporate networks.

With all options enabled, the gateway software costs US$50 per computer protected, CA said.

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