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Webroot launched the latest version of its enterprise anti-spyware application on June 13, promising a completely revamped software client along with stronger tools for removing rootkits and other malicious programs.

The product, Spy Sweeper Enterprise 3.0, offers kernel-level driver protection capabilities to help aid in the detection and removal of increasingly sophisticated forms of spyware, according to Webroot. The tools specifically target malicious programs that use rootkit technology to mask or hide themselves from Microsoft’s Windows operating system and other systems.

Click here to read a review of Spy Sweeper.

Utilizing its direct disk scanning technology, the software’s updated client engine can allow customers to more effectively scour infected hard drives and bypass the Windows software code that controls disk access, providing stronger protection against various forms of hidden malware attacks, according to the anti-spyware vendor.

The product release also boasts new versions of the company’s Smart Shields, automated defense mechanisms in the software meant to proactively fight certain types of popular malware threats. Among the new tools are an ActiveX Shield for battling so-called drive-by downloads that use ActiveX components to disguise their installation, and a Spy Communication Shield for preventing spyware infection from Web sites known to distribute malicious code.

Other features include a shield for stopping the installation of Browser Helper Objects, and an IE Trusted Sites Shield that offers to prevent spyware from modifying Internet Explorer security settings.

Webroot is also touting the integration of the product with Phileas V, the latest iteration of its automated spyware research system that searches for new forms of malware. Phileas launched in January 2005 and uses what the vendor describes as a multitiered bot network to perform more complex scanning such as deep packet sniffing.

Webroot is banking on its channel to to maintain and grow its installed base in the enterprise and consumer markets as the company fends off competition.Click here to read more.

The software maker said that as part of the launch it will begin releasing incremental malware definitions that force client workstations to download only the newest or updated descriptions of the threats, which Webroot maintains will help its customers remain up-to-date on the newest attacks and keep bandwidth issues in check.

With Microsoft preparing to introduce its own anti-spyware tools with the launch of its Vista operating system in 2007, some experts have predicted that third-party software vendors such as Webroot will see demand for their products suffer as a result. Webroot Chief Executive David Moll contends that there will always be an appetite among customers for security tools made by independent providers.

“With all the issues we’ve seen around malicious programs that are able to infiltrate Windows over the years, I don’t think you’re going to see large numbers of customers, specifically in the enterprise space, who want to hand over security to Microsoft,” Moll said. “Our company is completely focused on finding these attacks and providing the software needed to defend against them; it will be hard for any company that does not have security at the core of its business to give customers the level of protection they need.”

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