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Automatic graylisting of unwanted software

Maximum security, minimal effort

SANS - Survey on application security programs

As network perimeters become ever more porous, and endpoint security becomes even more critical, companies today are struggling with the problem of unwanted software - whether it's new, unknown, and potentially malicious software, or simply known but non-business applications.

Now, a new approach to endpoint security known as automatic graylisting is enabling IT professionals to regain control over spyware, malware, and other unwanted and unapproved applications with real-time, network-wide visibility and control - for maximum security with minimal effort.

The problem of unwanted software

Unwanted software represents a root cause of a wide variety of IT problems that involve not just time, but money. For example, Microsoft estimates that spyware causes one third of system crashesand according to the Business Software Alliance, unlicensed software can result in settlements in excess of $100,000.

Unwanted software includes worms, viruses, spyware, vulnerable applications, unlicensed software, and unsanctioned applications, and it can arrive on corporate networks in many ways. The scope of the problem ranges from mobile users connecting to infected networks to end users unknowingly infesting their office desktops with spyware. As well, end users can knowingly download non-sanctioned applications such as peer-to-peer file-sharing, instant messaging, mp3 applications, and others.

SANS has reported that the number of vulnerabilities in 2005 is going up, not down: "Despite increasing public and corporate awareness about cybersecurity, the number of computer vulnerabilities in the second quarter of 2005 increased 10.8 per cent compared with the first quarter, according to a new survey from the SANS Institute, which develops data and research on information security. In all, SANS discovered 422 new vulnerabilities, up from 381 in the first quarter."

To complicate matters further, spyware producers continue to make the legal case that their software is neither malicious nor illegal. While unwanted software encompasses a variety of applications that have different implications and characteristics, today's solutions typically focus on narrow aspects of the problem. Thus, different tools have evolved to solve a subset of the problem. For example, most current security products attempt to detect only malicious applications of certain types and new malicious software is discovered each day. In fact, Sophos recently identified 1,233 new viruses in September 2005 alone. Unfortunately, this approach has caused a proliferation of agents on systems that increase complexity and administrative effort.

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