Hot on the heels of Microsoft's Security Essentials launch last week, AVG Technologies is unveiling a major update to its free and paid internet security products which the company claims brings much faster scan times as well as a number of under-the-hood improvements.

Responding to customer feedback the security firm has reportedly put special focus on improving the user experience and ease of use. As a result, version 9.0 is said to be "up to 50 percent" faster than its predecessor, thanks to more sophisticated caching techniques and memory use. Boot times have also been reduced by around 10 to 15 percent and overall the installation process on the full-fledged suite has been shortened from 22 screens to 11.

In addition to the anti-phishing protection offered through LinkScanner, AVG 9.0 now also includes additional protection against identity theft in the physical world (for US customers only) with the AVG Identity Theft Recovery Unit (ITRU). Meanwhile, firewall enhancements include a complete redesign and a new cloud-based white listing database to reduce the amount of user input required to secure a PC.

Both AVG Internet Security 9 and AVG Anti-Virus are available now for a one-year license of $49.99 and $34.99, respectively. The main difference between the two is that AVG Anti-Virus lacks the firewall, identity protection, anti-spam, and system tools that come in AVG Internet Security. As always, a cut-down free version will also be available but starting from mid-October.