The new version of Kaspersky’s security suite, Internet Security 2009, features a novel but simple defence against keylogging malware – a virtual keyboard.

Full details have yet to be confirmed, but it is understood that the program will let users bring up the keyboard from which to enter login details for websites such as online banks that might be vulnerable. The on-screen keyboard will cache the keystrokes, protecting them from recording programs that would pick up physical keystrokes coming via the keyboard driver.

It’s not a new idea but Kaspersky is the first major security vendor to include such a feature in a standard Net security program.

The company has also announced a raft of other enhancements to Internet Security 2009, and Anti-Virus 2009, both due out this month.

For the first time, Internet Security will feature applications whitelisting, which will analyse programs against a database from security vendor Bit9 - users will be told about apps that don’t show up with a digital ‘fingerprint’ in this database. There will also the ability to enforce restrictions on external devices such as USB drives, and a security analysis tool will tell users which third-party software needs patching, in a similar mould to Secunia’s Software Inspector.

The company claims it has overhauled the Anti-Virus program to better detect and deal with malware, especially rootkits, found on the system at the point it is installed, as well as adding improved self-protection against malware that tries to subvert Kaspersky itself.

If all this sounds as if it might cause performance to deteriorate, the company has an answer to that too. The new ‘iSwift’ checksumming feature – something that was popular in anti-virus programs as long ago as the early 1990s – will reduce scan loads by analysing only files that have changed since that last scan was performed.

“Our 2009 technology provides […] an unobtrusive security solution that will not slow down their gaming, email, instant messaging, downloading, home working or social networking and other activities. The Virtual Keyboard will further protect those using online banking, to ensure that their money and account details remain safe,” said Kaspersky’s David Emm.

Internet Security 2009 UK Edition, single user, costs £39.99 per annum (£27.99 renewal), with Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 UK Edition, single user at £29.99 per annum (£20.99 renewal), available for download from this month.