AVG LinkScanner adds real-time protection to your browsing

AVG LinkScanner adds real-time protection whether you use Internet Explorer or Firefox

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There are a number of tools that do a great job of cleaning up after a spyware or scareware infection, or even after a Trojan has gotten through. Wouldn’t it be great, however, to prevent this sort of thing before it happens?

Anti-virus vendor AVG Technologies (Grisoft) is hoping that by releasing its LinkScanner technology as a free, standalone product it will be able to help protect us from an expanding online threat.

Since most email is protected, so it is reckoned by some, by ISPs and users are getting smarter about using anti-virus software and firewalls, most malicious code is now distributed by web site visits. A computer can be infected by a so-called “drive-by download” just by visiting an infected site.

Some vital stats are:

  • On any given day, some two million web pages are poisoned by hidden threats.

  • 60 percent of malicious web sites appear for less than one day.

  • Real-time scanning is critical as relying on a database of known URLs isn’t sufficient protection.

AVG Link Scanner is not new, but previously you could only get it as part of the AVG Anti-Virus or Internet Security products, and it was only part of the paid-for tools.

But now you can add this functionality to your security toolbox, even if you use other security products, and it is for free.

At the heart of the LinkScanner is technology that analyzes web links in real time and determines if they pose a threat. If they do it is said that it prevents you from downloading those pages. Now, I cannot vouch for that because I am not about to try. When the scanner tells me there is a link that it is not happy with an marks it as red then I am not about to go and try to get past that and endanger my system.

It also works in conjunction with major search engines to give you a visual indicator on the safety of the links returned in the search results. Green check marks indicate you are safe to click through.

In addition it will also secure links in web mail services – it works well in Yahoo Mail – and also on Twitter. It does not, as yet, seem to work with Facebook, for instance, and it is there where we could do with it as well.

You may remember when AVG 8.0 was released that there were some slow browsing issues reported, related to LinkScanner.

Since then, optimizations have been put in place to minimize that side effect, including a fix to resolve an issue with Windows Vista.

I have had it installed since they released it, and while there are other that say that they have not noticed any perceptible slowdown I have to say that on some places, such as Google, and Twitter, it can take quite a while before the scanner gives its ratings.

However, I rather accept a little slowdown than to have my system compromised and infected by malware and such.

LinkScanner runs on both Windows XP and Vista (32 & 64bit versions) and is a free download for non-commercial use.

© 2009