I have a confession to make: I’m not usually blown away by the antivirus software I review.
Over the years, I have learned to expect certain things from these applications, and I have not been terribly surprised by most versions that have crossed my desk.
Certainly, definitions evolve, and the means of detection improve. But for the most part, antivirus software works its magic by comparing what it sees with a static set of definitions, then taking action when it identifies a match. The interface may become more intuitive, deployment more painless and detection more accurate, but the process itself remains largely unchanged.
But the latest iteration of Symantec Endpoint Protection (v.12) was a pleasant surprise. With SEP, Symantec changed direction.
Symantec seems to have gone to great lengths to Excellerate overall performance by training the software to avoid scanning files unnecessarily. To achieve this, it has introduced Symantec Insight, technology that uses data collected from more than 175 million opt-in customers to rate the safety of and assign reputations to almost every executable (.exe) file available. The virus scanner uses this information to decide whether to scan a given file. When a reputation ranks highly, the application will skip it altogether, effectively minimizing scan times and lowering overall system resource utilization.
Additionally, the latest rendition of Symantec Online Network for Advanced Response (SONAR) introduces policy enforcement, which helps block new malicious processes before definitions become available. This is accomplished by observing a program’s behavior in real time while leveraging its actions against a behavioral profile. If the culmination of several suspicious actions results in a poor rating, the system will proactively stop the process and prevent it from further compromising the machine. Any administrator who has wrung her hands (or pulled his hair out) while waiting for a virus definition update will no doubt appreciate this added layer of malware protection.
The management console is well designed and easy to learn, providing tools and data for the entire organization in a single panel. Administrators who have used previous versions of SEP will find the layout and logic familiar, as it is strikingly similar to that of v.11. Most common tasks can be carried out in much the same way as they always have been, from creating custom policies to deploying to new clients. Any administrator familiar with this product family will have no problem getting up to speed with changes in the new version.
To help, Symantec preconfigures the policy settings of the Small Business Edition of SEP 12. That means administrators can hit the ground running, making customizations as needed.
Last, but far from least, because Insight reduces the files scanned and the duration of scans, SEP 12’s performance is noticeably improved on client systems, resulting in a better overall experience for end users.
Though the Small Business Edition boasts advances, they come at a price. The product becomes much cheaper when an organization passes the 25-client mark, and customers receive additional discounts for longer subscription terms.
The Internet of Things is going gangbusters, despite no one knowing exactly what it will be used for. There’s more marketing money being thrown at IoT paraphernalia than a new soda from Pepsi. It’s a new technology, and with that comes a few problems: these devices are incredibly insecure, and you only need to look at a few CCTV camera streams available online for proof of that.
The obvious solution to vulnerable Internet of Things things would be to get people to change the login credentials on their devices, but that has proven to be too difficult for most of the population. A better solution, if questionable in its intentions, would be a virus that would close all those open ports on routers, killing Telnet, and reminding users to change their passwords. Symantec has found such a virus. It’s called Wifatch, and it bends the concept of malware into a force for good.
Wifatch is a bit of code that slips through the back door of routers and other IoT devices, closes off Telnet to prevent further infection, and leaves a message telling the owner to change the password and update the device firmware. Wifatch isn’t keeping any secrets, either: most of the code is written in unobfuscated Perl, and there are debug messages that enable easy analysis of the code. This is code that’s meant to be taken apart, and code that includes a comment directed at NSA and FBI agents:
To any NSA and FBI agents reading this: please consider whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example.
Although the designer of Wifatch left all the code out in the open, and is arguably doing good, there is a possible dark side to this white hat virus. Wifatch connects to a peer-to-peer network that is used to distribute threat updates. With backdoors in the code, the author of Wifatch could conceivably turn the entire network of Wifatch-infected devices into a personal botnet.
While Wifatch is easily removed from a router with a simple restart, and re-infection can be prevented by changing the default passwords, this is an interesting case of virtual vigilantism. It may not be the best way to tell people they need to change the password on their router, but it’s hard to argue with results.
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&#151; -- Some tech groups are beginning to worry that major IT industry priorities, including patent reform, may lose out to other priorities in the U.S. Congress this year.
In the last couple of weeks, large tech companies have renewed their push for patent reform legislation in the U.S. Congress, despite opposition from U.S. President George Bush's administration and some labor unions.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is concerned that a congressional debate over an economic stimulus package, plus typical election-year gridlock, could hurt the prospects for patent reform and other tech priorities, said Michael Wendy, a spokesman for the trade group.
The House of Representatives' economic stimulus package includes tax write-offs for small business purchase of equipment, which could include computers, Wendy said. That's a good move, but patent reform, a research and development tax credit, H-1B visa reform and other issues remain undone, he said.
"We hope that Congress -- assuming they pass an [economic stimulus] package -- doesn't just say, 'Well, we gave you some favorable tax provisions that will help boost industry activity and have a long-tail effect on the economy, so that should be enough for you guys this session,'" Wendy said last week. "One thing we're concerned about is that the economic stimulus bill may be seen by Congress as a 'get out of jail free' card when it comes to other of our tech policy agenda."
The House in September passed a patent reform bill -- supported by many large tech vendors, but opposed by several small tech companies -- but similar legislation has been stalled in the Senate. Large tech vendors, including Microsoft, IBM and Symantec, have called for patent reform, saying it's too easy for companies with no intention of creating products to buy up patents and file multimillion-dollar infringement lawsuits against other companies.
On Jan. 22, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said patent reform was a priority, but it was in a line behind several other bills, including an economic stimulus package and a government surveillance authorization bill. The Senate would turn to patent reform, "time permitting," he said then.
"On patent reform, we must carefully strike the right balance with a bill that promotes rather than blocks innovation from enterprising entrepreneurs," Reid added.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved its version of the Patent Reform Act on Jan. 24, and the bill is awaiting action in the full Senate.
But earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Commerce sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee raising concerns about the bill. The letter, outlining the Bush administration's views, focused on a section of the bill that would apportion infringement damages in a new way. Currently, courts generally consider the value of the entire product when a small piece of the product infringes a patent; the bill would allow courts to base damages only on the value of the infringing piece.
The wide-ranging bill would also allow a new way to challenge patents after they are issued.
That provision would "create more problems than it solves," said the Commerce Department letter, signed by Nathaniel Wienecke, the agency's assistant secretary for legislative and intergovernmental affairs. "The administration believes that such a dramatic change from current jurisprudence may have the unintended consequence of reducing the rewards of innovation and encouraging patent infringement," Wienecke wrote.
Both sides can still work out their differences, Wienecke added.
In addition, 14 labor unions, including the United Steelworkers, the Patent Office Professional Association and the Communications Workers of America, sent a letter to Senators last week, saying they were concerned about the patent bill. "Key parts of the proposed legislation may have the effect of increasing the likelihood of American inventions being stolen by our international competitors and, consequently, inhibiting sorely needed new investment in domestic manufacturing," the letter said.
Still, some representatives of the tech industry say they're hopeful that patent reform can move forward.
Senators, representatives of the Bush administration and other interested parties have been meeting regularly "to find balanced solutions on all the issues," said Mark Isakowitz, spokesman for the Coalition for Patent Fairness, a group representing several large tech companies. "We respectfully disagree [with the Bush administration] on damages, but we are confident ... we can work through concerns and achieve broad consensus on the bill, which would be a victory for the administration, the Congress and our economy," he added.
Axonius, a leader in cybersecurity asset management and SaaS management, has appointed Tom Kennedy as its Vice President of Axonius Federal Systems LLC, the company’s government-focused subsidiary. As vice president, Kennedy will be responsible for building on the program’s growth, and expanding the impact and reach of the Axonius platform within the federal marketplace.
Prior to joining Axonius, Kennedy was Vice President of Public Sector at Rubrik, where he helped to accelerate the company’s federal sector growth. He previously served as Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector at Veritas, where he led the company’s federal, state and local, education and health care divisions. He held several leadership roles at Symantec before they spun off Veritas.
“Tom has extensive experience in public markets, and he understands fully and completely the numerous cybersecurity challenges currently facing federal agencies,” said Dean Sysman, CEO and co-founder of Axonius. “By combining his background with the simple, but comprehensive approach of the Axonius platform, more government agencies will come to understand the important role cybersecurity asset management plays in strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity through enhanced visibility into assets and issues.”
In May 2021, the Biden administration issued Executive Order 14028, Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, which directs decisive action to Excellerate the federal government’s cybersecurity capabilities. Included in that order is a mandate that all government agencies understand their assets and corresponding relationship to security policy expectations.
Axonius enables agencies to meet this expectation by providing organizations with a complete and accurate asset inventory, helping them to discover security coverage gaps and then enabling them to take steps to automate and enforce security policies.
“I’ve long held the belief that accurate asset management is foundational to any cybersecurity program,” Kennedy said. “You simply can’t secure what you can’t see, and Axonius eliminates that challenge. I joined the company because I believe in the platform, and I know that by helping government agencies gain visibility into their assets and security gaps, we can deliver them confidence in their ability to comply with regulations and keep their agencies secure.”
Since the formation of Axonius Federal Systems LLC, the 4.0-f version of the Axonius Cybersecurity Asset Management solution has been certified by the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) as having passed Common Criteria validation. As a result, government agencies that require NIAP validation from vendors can leverage Axonius to reduce cyber risk and gain asset visibility across their environments.
To learn more about Axonius Federal Systems, visit the website.
Kennedy to continue scaling Axonius Federal Systems, building on its 152% year-over-year growth in 2021
NEW YORK, July 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Axonius, the leader in cybersecurity asset management and SaaS management, today announced it has appointed Tom Kennedy as its Vice President of Axonius Federal Systems LLC, the company's government-focused subsidiary. As vice president, Kennedy will be responsible for building on the program's growth, expanding the impact and reach of the Axonius platform within the federal marketplace.
Tom Kennedy named Vice President of Axonius Federal Systems, Axonius' government-focused subsidiary.
Prior to joining Axonius, Kennedy was Vice President of Public Sector at Rubrik, where he helped to accelerate the company's federal sector growth. He previously served as Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector at Veritas, where he led the company's federal, state and local, education, and healthcare divisions. He held several leadership roles at Symantec before they spun off Veritas.
"Tom has extensive experience in public markets, and he understands fully and completely the numerous cybersecurity challenges currently facing federal agencies," said Dean Sysman, CEO and Co-founder of Axonius. "By combining his background with the simple, but comprehensive approach of the Axonius platform, more government agencies will come to understand the important role cybersecurity asset management plays in strengthening our nation's cybersecurity through enhanced visibility into assets and issues."
In May 2021, the Biden administration issued Executive Order 14028, Improving the Nation's Cybersecurity, which directs decisive action to Excellerate the Federal Government's cybersecurity capabilities. Included in that EO is a mandate that all government agencies understand their assets and corresponding relationship to security policy expectations. Axonius enables agencies to meet this expectation by providing organizations with a complete and accurate asset inventory, helping them to discover security coverage gaps and then enabling them to take steps to automate and enforce security policies.
"I've long held the belief that accurate asset management is foundational to any cybersecurity program," said Tom Kennedy, Vice President of Axonius Federal Systems. "You simply can't secure what you can't see, and Axonius eliminates that challenge. I joined the company because I believe in the platform, and I know that by helping government agencies gain visibility into their assets and security gaps, we can deliver them confidence in their ability to comply with regulations and keep their agencies secure."
Since the formation of Axonius Federal Systems LLC, the 4.0-f version of the Axonius Cybersecurity Asset Management solution has been certified by the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) as having passed Common Criteria validation. As a result, government agencies that require NIAP validation from vendors can now leverage Axonius to reduce cyber risk and gain asset visibility across their environments. To learn more about Axonius Federal Systems, visit the website.
Axonius gives customers the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, navigating risk, automating response actions, and informing business-level strategy. With solutions for both cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) and SaaS management, Axonius is deployed in minutes and integrates with hundreds of data sources to provide a comprehensive asset inventory, uncover gaps, and automatically validate and enforce policies. Cited as one of the fastest-growing cybersecurity startups, with accolades from CNBC, Forbes, and Fortune, Axonius covers millions of assets, including devices and cloud assets, user accounts, and SaaS applications, for customers around the world. For more, visit Axonius.com.
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