Crystal Anti-Exploit Protection is an antivirus tool with a difference. Instead of scanning your system to look for known malicious files, it applies a host of different techniques to make it far more difficult for malware to infect you in the first place.

The program can apply filters to your incoming and outgoing internet connections, for instance, to decide whether they should be allowed.

The API monitor employs all kinds of useful tricks. It might prevent protected programs, such as your browser, from loading code modules from a temporary directory, for instance (a common malware technique). Or it can monitor calls to key Windows system functions to make sure they're coming from trusted areas of memory.

A Memory Monitor uses a range of protections to reduce the number of possible exploits (memory allocation sizes are varied, process DEP is enabled, heap memory is cleared, and more).

And a more standard COM/ActiveX Monitor can filter ActiveX components on a per application basis, either via black or white listing.

As you can probably tell from our description, this isn't a tool for the PC novice. Crystal Anti-Exploit Protection isn't difficult to use - there's little to do, launch the program and it just works - but the various options on offer here are extremely powerful, and to get the most from CAEP you'll need considerable Windows experience.

If that sounds like you, though, and you're willing to spend the time to set things up to suit your needs, Crystal Anti-Exploit Protection could add a very welcome extra layer of security to your PC.

Please note, though - this is a beta, and with such low-level functionality it's entirely possible that some settings could break your PC, to the point that it won't even boot. Don't use Crystal Anti-Exploit Protection unless you've a full system backup available.

Verdict

Crystal Anti-Exploit Protection is a powerful custom HIPS which provides plenty of ways to help keep your PC malware-free. Beware its beta status, though - don't install unless you've a full system backup to hand.