Trend gets security patent for Java code defence

Next gen virus blocking or marketing ploy?

Updated Trend Micro has secured the patent for a technique to detect malicious code in Java or Active X applets.

According to Reuters, Trend believes patent will help put it ahead of its competitors in protecting mobile devices and phones for the next wave of computer viruses. The agency reports it is in talks with an unspecified number of telcos about licensing agreements concerning its technology.

Scanning to detect the action of malicious Java or ActiveX applets on mobile phones is more difficult because they have such limited memory, and Trend reckons its technology gets around this limitation. We have our doubts that it has an exclusive on this.

Most of the major players in the AV space (such as NAI and F-Secure) are developing software that will protect phone and handhelds from malicious code, even though (for now) the problem is largely theoretical. There's also firms like Finjan that specialise in defending against mobile code.

Patents normally suggest technical innovation but as far as the antiviral market goes history has shown the US patents have been more commonly used as legal and marketing weapons in a fiercely competitive market. For example, Symantec and McAfee lawyers have been arguing about the scope of their respective patents for years, and ultimately users end up footing the bill for this legal bunfight. ®

Updated

Trend has now posted a statement on US patent 6,272,641 which describes a "multi-tiered process that involves server-based scanning and malicious code filtering at the Internet gateway, followed when necessary by real-time behaviour analysis at the client browser.

"In that final step, a suspect application is wrapped in security monitoring code, which causes it to terminate immediately upon any forbidden behaviour."

The patented technology is part of Trend Micro's InterScan AppletTrap which only blocks malicious java applets. The patent, extends to ActiveX controls, and if Trend shipped a product that included this it would be very useful, and would set its products apart.

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External Links

Reuters: Trend Micro wins Java virus scan patent

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