FaceTime Buys Anti-Spyware Vendor

By Paul F. Roberts  |  Posted 2005-06-06 Print this article Print

XBlock Systems makes X Cleaner, which contains spyware scanning and removal capabilities. FaceTime also purchased the SpywareGuide.com portal.

FaceTime on Tuesday will announce its acquisition of XBlock Systems LLC, maker of the X Cleaner anti-spyware software for an undisclosed sum, the company told eWEEK magazine. FaceTime Communications Inc., of Foster City, Calif., plans to use the technology to enhance detection of unsanctioned programs that evade detection by security products and can undermine enterprise security, said Kailash Ambwani, FaceTimes president and CEO. XBlock makes X Cleaner, which the company markets as the "Swiss Army Knife of Online Privacy."
The product contains spyware scanning and removal capabilities, in addition to privacy protection features like file shredding and encryption tools.
FaceTime is best known for spotting spyware and is best known as a provider of products that protect against security threats in instant messaging and peer to peer traffic. FaceTime acquired XBlocks spyware database, spyware scanning and detection technology. The company also bought the SpywareGuide.com portal, which has more than 1 million visitors monthly, according to a statement released to eWEEK. The company is broadening its focus to a problem that it terms "greynets," which encompasses adware, spyware and legitimate applications like IM, Web conferencing and Web mail. Greynet applications are typically not allowed by network IT managers, but are hard to detect because they use evasive techniques to communicate within or outside corporate networks. In the case of spyware and adware, compromised machines can be used to attack a network or steal sensitive information, but unauthorized Web mail or Web conferencing applications can be equally dangerous, even though those applications are not designed to attack networks, Ambwani said. The XBlock acquisition will allow FaceTime to spot adware and spyware installations on enterprise networks its products protect, in addition to IM and P2P applications. Read more here about FaceTimes IM Guardian, which aims to secure and control IM and P2P communications. In addition to XBlocks database of known spyware and adware, FaceTime also wanted access to its installed user base and spyware reporting network, which will provide a steady stream of new spyware samples that FaceTime can use to generate new signatures for its products. "Most of these greynet applications start at a low density, but then grow extremely quickly. One thing we realized through our research was the value of a large network of users reporting information back," he said. XBlocks large network of users and technology for collecting and identifying new spyware or adware applications differentiated the company from competitors, he said. FaceTime will continue to manage and maintain the Spywareguide.com Web site, and kept its list of spyware applications open to the public, he said. IM and P2P are becoming common avenues for spyware infections, as well as adware and Trojan horse programs, Ambwani said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

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