CloudAV is a program that provides antivirus protection as an Internet service. CloudAV allows the user to take advantage of multiple antivirus programs without running them locally so the user's computer performance is not affected. The program uses a technique called N-version protection to identify malicious software by using multiple, heterogeneous antivirus detection engines in parallel. CloudAV was developed at the University of Michigan.

Individual antivirus programs catch some bad files that others miss and miss some that others catch. CloudAV scans files as they are received and notifies users of risks before suspect files are opened. A mechanism called "retrospective detection" scans file access history whenever a new threat is discovered to quickly detect previously unidentified infections. Researchers said they were able to detect 88 percent of recent viruses and 98 percent of all malware.

A number of security companies, including Trend Micro, are exploring cloud-based approaches to antivirus protection. As of October 2008, CloudAV is in use on the University of Michigan campus but has not been deployed elsewhere, although other universities and some enterprises have expressed interest. Before CloudAV can be rolled out on a larger scale, licensing and privacy issues need to be addressed.

Learn More About IT:
> For, Marcia Savage reports on CloudAV.
> Kate Greene writes about 'Moving Security to the Cloud.'
> Brian Jackson explains how 'CloudAV could supercharge anti-virus security.'
> Seth Fogie expresses his concerns about Cloud AV.
> Kelly Fiveash interviews Eva Chen, CEO of Trend Micro, about the company's cloud AV product.

This was last updated in August 2010

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