AVAST Software releases its new 5.1 antivirus

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, January 10, 2011 – AVAST Software has launched avast! 5.1, the latest version of its award-winning antivirus software.

The new version strengthens the day-to-day safety of computer users – even before their computers are fully booted – and comes with an enhanced ability to detect zero-day threats as they appear.

“We have extended our rootkit protection from mainstream computers to the newest 64-bit machines. This is especially good news for the 36 percent of our users who are Vista and Windows 7 users,” says Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Technical Officer of AVAST Software. “It used to be that only 32-bit machines were vulnerable to rootkits, but after the Alueron/TDL appeared last year, now everyone is vulnerable.”

Rootkits such as the Alueron manipulate the kernel of the operating system code to hide themselves, enabling data and financial information to be more easily stolen without the computer’s owner being aware of the infection – and also making it difficult for many antivirus programs to detect and completely remove them. The avast! boot-time scan uses direct disk access to bypass corrupted Windows file system drivers as it searches for malware.

“avast! 5.1 brings three major improvements focused on rootkits: all PCs are now able to do boot-time scans, the engine for rootkit detections has been enhanced, and the cleaning module’s ability to remove the mess on an already infected machine is better than ever,” explains Mr. Vlcek. “That is just the start. Most of the new stuff in 5.1 is hidden under the hood.”

Changes in the Behavior Shield have increased the program’s ability to find suspicious code without causing false positives. “The key is to identify potential malware more quickly and help other users,” says Mr. Vlcek. The revised Behavior Shield is more sensitive than in 5.0, allowing the identification of wider range of questionable items. Data on these items is then automatically sent to the avast! Virus Lab and used to improve overall detection of these new threats as they appear.

The new 5.1 can be downloaded at avast.com. Current avast! users will automatically get the new version during scheduled updates. The new version includes avast! Free Antivirus and the paid-for avast! Pro, and the premium avast! Internet Security.