Unlike standalone antiviruses and Internet security suites, Panda Cloud Office Protection (PCOP) is a cloud-based security solution tailored for small and medium size businesses. The benefits it offers to both IT administrators and end users are immense. It cuts down cost to a large extent and facilitates endpoint management. Also, being an online service, it can be managed from anywhere using the web-based interface.
How it works
The IT admin has to first login to administration console. Note that the number of licenses purchased is linked to the organization’s PCOP account. The antivirus can be deployed on the endpoints using the installation program that has to be run manually on individual PCs. Alternatively, admins may use the PCOP distribution tool which can be used for centralised installation of the protection on PCs connected to the network. PCs can be selected from the domain or specified using their IP address, IP range or network name. The size of the software (Panda Endpoint Protection) is about 210 MB, so installation time will vary depending on the speed of the Internet connection. After installation, an icon appears in the system tray and the PCs on which the protection is installed get listed in the Computers tab of PCOP’s web interface. From this point on, the protection on the PCs can be remotely managed and the users can use the antivirus on their PCs.
The admin can specify the scanning parameters in the advanced scan settings in the web interface.
The Installation and Settings tab allows organizing the PCs into groups. This helps to apply different security profiles to different sets of PCs. The profile editor helps creating scan schedules in which the scan type, date, time, file types (based on extensions), action to be taken on detection (disinfect, delete, inform), and so on, can be specified. Both the antivirus and firewall can be configured by the admin. The type of malicious software to be detected by the program (viruses, spyware, dialers, jokes and hacking tools) can be specified. The heuristic scan feature analyses programs to detect potential malware. As for the firewall, the admin can choose to apply Panda’s default set of rules which is deemed safe or the admin can create a customized set of rules. Here, various programs that transmit or receive data packets on the network can be blocked or authorized. Intrusion such as IDS attacks and worms can also be monitored and blocked. The most important function here is the connection rules section in which the type of protocol, ports and direction of data can be blocked or authorized for each PC. Once everything is configured, all that’s required is monitoring the endpoints. Reports can be generated for various groups in which the admin can choose the timeframe (last 24 hours, last 7 days and last month). The detailed report displays statistics in pie charts for parameters such as protection status and detections.
Reports give a clear idea about the status of the antivirus on users' PCs and the number of detections at a glance.
The functions enabled at the user’s end depend on the parameters set by the IT admin. For example, the user may not have the permission to access firewall settings. However, the users can perform quick scan and full scan on files, folders, drive partitions and external storage devices. If the endpoints have remote access tools such as LogMeIn, TeamViewer or VNC installed, the admin can remotely access PCs in case of emergencies or maintenance tasks in the case of user’s absence.
Panda Endpoint Protection that runs on the endpoints is extremely resource friendly. The memory footprint is less than 2 MB when in idle mode and around 6 MB while scanning. It took 39 minutes to scan the 20 GB system partition out of which 19 GB was used. These figures were logged on an entry-level desktop PC powered by Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 CPU and 2 GB of RAM. The operating system used was Windows 7 Ultimate, 32-bit.
Specific port numbers, type of protocols and other parameters can be blocked or allowed on individual PCs.
Products by Panda Security have achieved very good results in the latest detection tests by AV-Test.org and AV-Comparatives.org laboratories. Panda Internet Security 2012 was one of the top products with respect to protection and usability. These results highlight the efficiency of solutions by Panda Security.
The biggest benefit offered by PCOP is its low cost and ease of use. The organization need not setup an infrastructure for endpoint protection (servers, repository, and so on). In this case, it’s entirely hosted on the cloud. However, cloud-based services have their share of drawbacks. The quality of protection depends on uninterrupted Internet connectivity and access to the cloud. Should anything go wrong, it could spell trouble. For SMBs that don’t have resources and a high budget to implement a security solution, Panda Cloud Office Computing is a viable option.
End point users are free to run any type of scans on their PCs.
System requirements (Workstations)
OS: Windows XP/Vista/7; RAM: 512 MB; Drive space: 130 MB; Others: Internet connectivity.