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PrevX piles in against bank Trojans, phishing

Plugging gaps in traditional anti-malware

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The fight against banking Trojans and phishing attacks has stepped up a gear with the launch of a new product on Wednesday targeted at securing online transactions.

PrevX SafeOnline, a client-side security software package that isolates transactions from everything else on a user's Windows PC, is designed as an added layer of protection to traditional anti-malware and personal firewall security packages.

PrevX, the UK-based firm behind the scheme, wants to offer the software via bank and government business partners, who will be able to offer the technology free of charge to their customers at no charge to themselves. Individuals can also buy SafeOnline as a standalone package, at a cost of £9.95 for a year.

Mel Morris, Chief exec of PrevX, said the firm was in "advanced talks" with retail banks and two governments, suggesting that deployments might follow within three months. He explained that PrevX planned to offer the software through banks at no charge in part as a brand recognition exercise for PrevX while also addressing the security shortcomings of conventional anti-malware defences. PrevX's main product is an anti-malware package called PrevX 3.0.

PrevX's SafeOnline is designed to safeguard against threats including phishing, DNS poisoning, man-in-the-middle and keystroke logging. Morris explained that the software sits between the operating system and browser so that it is capable of preventing even infected PCs from compromising an online transaction.

The technology protects information such as passwords, session credentials, addresses, credit card details or account numbers that are entered into or displayed by an internet browser during an online transaction.

The 920KB software download works alongside existing security products without adversely affecting system performance, according to PrevX. The client-side technology works without making changes to banking websites or applications.

Vulnerability testing firm Immunity reported that PrevX SafeOnline was effective at protecting web transactions from a selection of prevalent threats including the Zeus, MBR, Goldun, and Silent Banker groups of Trojans and spyware packages.

"No security vendor, including us, can claim to stop 100 per cent of internet threats," Morris told the Reg. "The current crop of security products is not enough. So we have developed transaction security technology that mitigates the harm of malware that may or not be present on a user's PC.

"We hope that by adding an extra layer of protection that this will build confidence in online banking and e-commerce."

PrevX's SafeOnline is part of an emerging generation of transaction security products. Other example include Trusteer's Rapport product which likewise aims to protect online transactions even if a user's PC is infected. A number of banks, including NatWest in the UK (here), has signed up to offer the technology to their customers.

Morris acknowledged that Trusteer's technology had broadly similar aims to PrevX's SafeOnline, but said it differed because Rapport worked as a browser add-on while PrevX was offering a security hardening product that offered an extra layer of security. ®

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