Sophos beams up free Klingon antivirus app to Star Trek fans' PCs

By , Computerworld |  Security, Klingon Anti-Virus, Sophos

Hard on the heels of the success of the revamped Star Trek franchise, security company Sophos has released a Klingon-language version of a free malware scanning tool it uses to show Earth-bound customers how its technology stacks up against rivals' software.

Dubbed Klingon Anti-Virus (KAV), the software is actually a tweaked version of Sophos' Threat Detection Test translated into the language spoken by Klingons in the fictional Star Trek universe.

Downloads of KAV have been "through the roof," said Carole Theirault, a senior security consultant with Sophos. "It's been huge. I'm just shocked."

Sophos' description of KAV uses considerable humor to pitch the product. "Our routine monitoring of sub-space transmissions alerted Sophos that the loss of the Klingon battlecruiser Klothos was not due to Romulan incursion into the Khitomer system, but a result of trying to remove VBS/PeachyPDF-A from the battle computer using M'swoN'kar after Commander Kor opened an attachment from the system S'cam-419," the company said on the site promoting KAV.

"Use Sophos' Klingon Anti-Virus to quickly perform an on-demand scan and find viruses, spyware, adware, zero-day threats, Betazoid sub-ether porn dialers and Tribbles that your existing protection might have missed," the site continued.

Even the system requirements got in on the act. "Runs on Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista. This software has compatibility issues with the version of msxml4.dll used by cloaking devices on Romulan-modded D7-class battle cruisers. Installing this software on such vessels is punishable by ordeal of Ginst'a'Ed," said Sophos.

It's just a fluke that KAV went public at all, Theirault said. Originally, Sophos had been asked by a potential customer to see whether it was possible to translate their software into Klingon; it was never intended to be offered to the general public. A partially-finished Web page, however, was discovered by users, and after the word began to spread, Sophos cleaned up the site and made it official.

"We didn't expect to make it available to the outside world," said Theirault.

Sophos hired a Klingon translator -- Theirault identified him as "naHQun," a Dallas man who is a member of the Klingon Language Institute -- to translate the software's text from English. "He translates all kinds of things," said the clearly-amused Theirault. "He's done some Shakespeare plays, I believe. And his next project is the Kama Sutra. Really."

Threat Detection Test, which Sophos has offered as a free download for 18 months, is simply a scanner: Unlike full-featured antivirus software, it doesn't scrub a PC of malware. Sophos, said Theirault, uses it to give potential customers an idea of how its antivirus engine compares with other vendors' software. "It allows people to see what ours catches that their own antivirus doesn't," she said.

Theirault swore that Sophos didn't sync the release of KAV with the debut of the movie Star Trek. "I wish I could say we had," said Theirault.

Earlier today, Graham Cluley, another security analyst at Sophos, said that the company had received "a rather hard-nosed communication from a certain party seemingly trying to bully us into removing the Klingon Anti-Virus software from our site. We think that's daft, so we won't be doing it."

Klingons, and others, can download KAV from Sophos Web site.

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