IBM, HP Tackle Virus Protection

Fed up with relying solely on a software solution to curb the virus
crisis, two of the top computer makers are taking matters into their own
hands.

IBM and HP each have new programs to
help prevent common viruses from wreaking havoc on a network. Both
companies stressed the importance of antivirus software, firewalls and
installing patches on a timely basis. But Big Blue and the printer maker
are using some of their own technology to tap into that extra layer of
security that enterprises in all sectors seem to be crying out for:
peace of mind.

“After a year like 2004, many IT departments feel beaten down from
combating viruses like Mydoom and Netsky,” Stuart McIrvine, director of
IBM’s security strategy, said in a statement.

Based on early indicators, IBM’s Global Security Intelligence
Services team said a new and troubling trend for 2005 may be the
aggressive spread of viruses and worms to handheld devices, cell phones,
wireless networks and embedded computers, which include car and
satellite communication systems.

One problem that both companies have identified is that some
applications have the same automatic access and privileges to other
applications and parts of the computer system as does the user. This
means that any one application that becomes infected can spread a virus
throughout a system and damage unrelated programs and information. Even
commonly used programs such as Solitaire could infect a computer system.

McIrvine said IBM is rolling out new sophisticated intelligence-gathering and analysis tools as part of its security services group that
could help customers monitor and prepare themselves to
avoid a new breed of attacks.

IBM also will embed new security protections in its products. The
company’s upcoming ThinkPad T43 computers will support a new technology
called “Antidote.” The software lets an administrator set security
policies throughout the network including a feature that cleans out all
the connected systems and then blocks them from re-infection.

Researchers at HP Labs released a new software protection today
they call “Virus Throttle.” The damage-containment security software
detects abnormal, virus-like behavior and slows down the number of
different connections an infected machine can make. In that way, an
administrator has the time to check the problem and take further action
if necessary.

HP said it has begun collaborating with two prominent partners to
test the new security software. Already, the company has installed it as a
special pack for its HP ProLiant servers and for ProCurve Networking by
HP 5300 switches.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm also released new HP Security
Containment technology for its HP-UX 11i v2 operating system. The add-on
application separates compromised software and restricts access to other
applications or files on a system.

Separately, HP said it has new experimental software now in development that can
tackle access and privileges problem for Windows XP users. HP
scientists are working to configure applications so they automatically
launch in a restricted environment.

“If IT systems were ‘intelligent’ enough to automatically detect and
shut down attacks before they spread, administrators would spend less
time and money trying to catch up,” said Tony Redmond, vice president and
chief technology officer at HP’s Security Office and Services division.

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