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By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2003-02-19 Print this article Print

: Quantum Physics and Skin-Tight Security at Demo"> Quantum Physics and Skin-Tight Security at Demo BBX Technologies: Viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other malware have been at the forefront of many users and IT managers concerns recently. From viruses and worms like Slammer, I Love You and Anna Kornikova, to spyware, like Back Orifice, unauthorized and rogue programs can wreak havoc inside an organization. In addition, some user behavior can unintentionally bring networks and systems to their knees.
ImmuneEngine, a new protection product from BBX Technologies, aims to control these incursions by blocking and removing unauthorized executables before they can run on a system.
The product works by loading a small application on each machine, which monitors the Windows kernel, tracking the memory stack, mouse activity, keyboard activity and all of the message queues inside the system. When the application detects that an executable has been written to the system, it deletes that program before it can run. If an already running application starts behaving badly—as determined by system policies—ImmuneEngine attempts to remove it from the program stack without crashing the underlying system. Thus buffer overflow attacks, hidden e-mail-based worms, and other malicious hidden programs are kept from running and ruining a protected system. ImmuneEngine is not designed to replace anti-virus and other signature-tracking apps. Instead, the company claims, it provides a "last line of defense" for 32-bit Windows-based workstations and servers. It wont block everything, but it adds another layer of security to an existing environment. The client takes up only 3-4 megabytes of storage and results in a 3 percent performance hit on a 700MHz computer. Pricing for the product, available now, is about $175 per workstation. Liquid Machines: This company solves a different part of the security problem, in a similar way. Rather than focus on protecting a system from rogue executables, Liquid Machines tries to protect the intellectual property contained in spreadsheets, documents and data files from being improperly altered or stolen. This has become an even more important security issue now that notebook computers are so widespread and its so easy to e-mail a file to anyone. The Liquid Machines Information Security Platform, like ImmuneEngine, works by loading a small applet onto each secured PC or notebook. That applet then encrypts data files and uses rules and group-based security policies stored on a central server to determine users level of access to those files. The companys software loads itself along with any application and controls access to file creation, saving, deleting, copy-and-paste and printing functions. Based on users security level, they can be restricted from even opening a file. The applet that runs on every PC includes a copy of all the policy rules contained on the server. When a file is opened, the system checks those policies to determine access level, and whether to decrypt the file at all. If a user is operating untethered, on a notebook or stand-alone desktop, the locally cached policies are used. However, the company has also implemented a time-out feature as well. If that policy is set for two days, for instance, and if the computer hasnt connected to the server during that interval, all file access is blocked. Its not foolproof—a truly determined thief can always take a snapshot of a screen with a digital camera or grab a screen capture of sensitive data. But it does offer another level of key protection. The software and server, which will go into beta-testing next month, should be available later this year. Liquid Machines is targeting financial institutions, pharmaceuticals and government agencies that need secure data protection even when a notebook has left the network. The server is expected to cost $35,000, with each client adding another $150 to the cost. Later in the year, the company expects to extend the protection system to cover e-mail and messaging as well. Hacker-proof Security: Two other fascinating high-level security applications were debuted as well. MagiQ showed off an intriguing technology, code-named Navajo, that it claims is "hacker-proof." It works by using quantum cryptography—essentially a single photon transmitted over a fiber connection—to create unbreakable encryption. Its based on the laws of physics, and terribly complex. Head to the company site for more information. Skin-tight Security: As if retinal scans and fingerprints werent enough, Delean Vision showed off an identification technology using details of human skin. It uses standard PC webcams to capture a skin image and then compares that image to its database of users. It seems far out, but actually seemed to work. Secure Zip Files: PKZIP showed off a new version of its zip software that adds RSA BSAFE encryption to standard zip files. The company has made some strong efforts to integrate security and Notes/Outlook support into the program.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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