Symantec last night launched a free public beta for its Norton AntiBot software. Norton AntiBot will analyse your PC's behaviour to identify malware. Norton AntiBot is meant as a supplement to antivirus software, not a replacement.
Norton AntiBot benefits from from Symantec's SONAR behavioural scanning technology, but is largely based on existing technology from Sana Security.
Symantec's analytic software doesn't use signatures as traditional antivirus products do. Instead, it examines where a program runs from, what Registry changes it makes, what internet sites it may attempt to contact and so on. Symantec says Norton AntiBot won't conflict with other antivirus programs.
While the SONAR feature runs only during virus scans, Symantec says AntiBot stays running in the background to observe all programs' behaviour. Although the Norton AntiBot name emphasises the programs focus on catching the versatile "bot" malware that can turn infected computers into remote-controlled "zombie" PCs, the program will look for behaviours associated with a wide range of malicious software, including keystroke logging and other suspicious activities.
The Norton AntiBot beta is available as a free download from Symantec. The company plans to release the final version around July, at which time the beta will expire. Symantec hasn't yet announced a price for the program, but says that it may eventually add the technology to its existing line of antivirus programs.
This latest move signals security companies' continued interest in developing technology that doesn't rely on exact signature matches in order to identify malware, since online crooks are continually devising new approaches to evade signatures.