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Web security and anti-spyware specialist Lavasoft announced the release of the latest version of of Ad-Aware Free Internet Security, which now includes real-time anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, as well as a rootkit removal system. The paid version of Ad-Aware Internet Security, Ad-Aware Pro, offers multi-layered protection and more advanced control; Ad-Aware Pro, which retails for $29.95, is available with one, three, or five user licenses, and includes free technical support and software updates throughout the license period.

Key features of the free version include core anti-malware detection, malware detection techniques such as behavior-based heuristics methodology and Genotype technology, which helps pinpoint newer and more complex forms of malware, and Basic real-time protection, which allows computers users to detect malware applications before personal information is attacked.

“This new version, which includes the advanced technology, easy-to-use functionality and optimum efficiency that people expect from our software, puts even more power in the hands of our users, providing a true first line of defense against today’s cyber threats,” said Lavasoft’s senior technologies director Johnny Widerlund. “By continuing to offer the Ad-Aware Free version and now adding anti-virus protection, we are ensuring that our users throughout the world have a one-stop product that delivers core malware protection: anti-spyware, anti-virus and anti-rootkit.”

A rootkit is a type of malware that is designed to gain administrative-level control over a computer system without being detected. Rootkits can change how the operating system functions and in some cases can tamper with the anti-virus program and render it ineffective. Some are simply utility applications, while others can work successfully on multiple systems. Rootkits are considers extremely harmful because of their complexity and ability to siphon and transmit sensitive data, including PIN numbers, account passwords and credit card particulars.

The company also announced the release of Ad-Aware Total Security, the latest version of its flagship security product. The latest version, which retails for $49.95, includes a firewall, anti-phishing, identity theft protection, anti-spam, parental control, online backup, data recovery, and system tuning. “We know that, at the end of the day, our users just want to be able to use the Internet safely, without worrying about cyber criminals and their malicious tactics, as they socialize, shop, bank and work online,” Widerlund said.