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Firm hunts for Nimda-like worms in Web traffic

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London-based security outfit ScanSafe today launched a Net-based filtering service designed to counter Web-borne viruses and malicious code.

Firms such as MessageLabs have made a successful business from weeding viruses in email traffic; ScanSafe is applying much the same methodology to HTTP traffic.

ScanSafe scans for all Web viruses by integrating AntiVirus engines from three leading AV vendors with its own proprietary Internet-level detection technology, Outbreak Intelligence. Web traffic requests from users are redirected via ScanSafe's network of beefy Web caches acting as secure proxy servers.

The company says it has set up high-bandwidth connections to ensure the rapid scanning and delivery of Web content.

Corporate access latency using this approach is “effectively zero” and its systems are scalable, according to ScanSafe.

In response to the threat posed by blended worms such as Nimda, vendors have developed a number of approaches: these include internal security appliances (Check Point), Web application firewalls (Blue Coat), building intrusion protection functions into firewalls (NetScreen) and variations on the theme of host-based intrusion prevention (Cisco et al). Indeed the capacity of Windows boxes to spread network worms has created a whole sub-category in the security market.

According to the ScanSafe pitch it is better to filter out malicious code at the Internet-level before it reaches corporate boundaries.

Less complicated

John Edwards, technical director at ScanSafe, acknowledges its service would fail to stop worms spreading over network shares if, for example, an infected laptop is plugged into a corporate LAN.

This could be a major shortcoming in eyes of some admins, but ScanSafe counters that its service is less complicated to set up than other options. The service is positioned as an extra layer of protection best used in combination with traditional AV scanners.

ScanSafe managing director Roy Tuvey told El Reg that he expects SMEs will be early adopters of the technology. The company wants to partner with ISPs and other managed service providers in bringing its services to market.

The ScanSafe service is available immediately. Pricing starts at £2.75 per user per month for up to 25 users, with discounts available for larger numbers of users. ScanSafe wants to Web security portfolio over time with the introduction of instant message security and anti-spyware services in the pipeline. However the company reckons Web-based anti-virus will remain the mainstay of its business. ®

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