Symantec showcases prototypes in Sydney

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Symantec executives in Sydney this week provided a rare glimpse into the company's latest prototypes, which include virtualisation-based endpoint security (VIBES) and DeepClean technology.

Developed by the Symantec Research Labs Core Research group, VIBES leverages virtualisation during sensitive online transactions such as online shopping. It enables users to use different virtual environments to carry out different web transactions on a single PC.

"A unique capability of VIBES technology is its ability to automatically choose the most suitable virtual execution environment for a given browser interaction scenario and completely hide the use of virtualisation from end users," said Joe Pasqua, vice president of Symantec Research Labs.

The three virtual execution environments in the current VIBES prototype are: The "User" virtual machine, which is where normal day-to-day activities are performed; the "Trusted" virtual machine, where trusted operations such as entering sensitive credential information are conducted; and the "Playground" virtual machine, where more adventurous, untrusted activities are carried out, such as visiting unknown web sites or downloading unknown applications.

DeepClean - another prototype on display - is a reputation-based whitelisting technology which leverages Symantec's Global Intelligence Network. It employs whitelisting and reputation analysis and supplements existing approaches such as signatures, heuristics and blacklists to detect today's emerging internet threats and targeted attack types.

Pasqua said there were over 1 million new malware threats detected in the past 12 months, noting that "that's more than the last ten years". 

He added that attackers are now releasing micro-distributions of malware where they may only target 20 PCs. The catch is that each malware may have thousands of different strains and Symantec has to create signatures for all that malware.

"10,000 new strains per day," said Pasqua. "With DeepClean for the enterprise each file has a reputation rating that helps categorise legitimate and malicious files. The result is the ability to far more comprehensively assess risks of any files, as the volume and diversity-targeted attacks continues increasing.

Discussing the prototypes, Symantec CTO Mark Bregman said today the focus is on innovation.

"In a slow economy, we are under pressure to focus on innovation even more in order to stay ahead and help customers accelerate when we're out of the downturn."

He said innovation takes place across the entire company and is one of Symantec's core values, however, these prototypes may never turn into products, or may be morphed into different products.

"Our business is like chess, hackers are trying to stay ahead but we're playing poker, we're taking a gamble."

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