Panda Security might just have the right idea when it comes to fighting malware across a threat landscape that is seeing more sophisticated and faster evolving attacks than ever before.

The Glendale, Calif.-based anti-virus firm has developed a new method known as "collective intelligence" to combat zero-day and targeted security threats -- in the cloud, in real time.

Here's how it works: Instead of relying on the manual collection and remediation of each piece of malware, which is morphing at alarming rates, Panda taps into the aggregated knowledge of its thousands and thousands of diverse users.

It's the same principle that author James Surowiecki chronicles in his "Wisdom of Crowds" best seller. In the introduction, he recaps an anecdote from a British scientist's visit to a county fair, at which the public tried to guess the weight of an ox. Each individual guess was wrong, often way wrong, but when the scientist averaged the predictions, the number came within 1 pound of the animal's weight.

It doesn't work that much differently in the case of Panda's technology.

In other words, if one customer is infected with a new variant, Panda immediately records that, develops a fix and pushes it out to all users. The idea is, users are on the front line. Why wait for lab workers to discover the malware when there is "intelligence" to be harnessed from a huge community of users of various shapes and sizes from all over the world. They are getting hit with different stuff every day.

Just because they are your customers doesn't mean you can't use them to create more robust solutions.

This technical feat is evident in Panda's just-announced product called Panda Security for Internet Transactions. The offering, deployed by banks, utilizes the "collective intelligence" technology to almost instantaneously scan customers' computers for trojans when they sign into their accounts.

If the product detects malware designed to perpetrate financial fraud, something like a keylogging trojan, users are diverted to a "safe page," where they are prompted to download anti-virus and get cleaned up.

To see firsthand how this "collective intelligence" technology works, check out, where you can run a quick 60-second scan of your PC for any viruses or spyware.