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AVG developer Grisoft is to acquire Exploit Prevention Labs and its technology for protecting against drive-by downloads.

A growing number of threats exploit vulnerabilities in browsers and other software to silently load malware onto computers while visiting what appear to be legitimate sites.

"Unsafe hyperlinks and the poisoning of legitimate websites represent one of the biggest threats facing computer users since the advent of viruses," said JR Smith, CEO of Grisoft. "The research and technology behind Exploit Prevention Labs' LinkScanner product family will enable us to provide our 60-plus million users with access to the most complete protection against internet security threats. Our combined operations will give us the dual advantages of fast reaction and deep research capabilities over other vendors attempting to address this space."

Roger Thompson, co-founder and CTO of Exploit Prevention Labs, explained "In today's Web 2.0 world of user-generated content and hyperlinked-everything, a web page can be safe one minute and dangerous the next. LinkScanner technology provides definitive real-time threat protection at the time that matters most - when the user clicks the link."

Most of Exploit Prevention Labs' 18 staff will join Grisoft. Thompson - who co-founded pioneering Australian anti-virus company Leprechaun Software in 1987 - becomes Grisoft's chief research officer.

Exploit Prevention Labs' LinkScanner technology will be added to AVG Anti-Virus Free, and LinkScanner Online will be offered as a free on-demand URL scanning service. LinkScanner Pro will remain a standalone commercial offering.

Th two companies' threat research operations will be combined, giving Grisoft research centres in North America, Australia, and Europe.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, and the deal is expected to be finalised by December 31.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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