Trend Micro retools antimalware software

Moving virus patterns to the Web could slash code sizes by 70%, Trend Micro says

Trend Micro's CEO Eva Chen says the security firm is adopting a new product-architecture strategy it calls Smart Protection Network that relies more on a new type of cloud-based computing than traditional pattern-file matching to protect both consumer and enterprise computers.

Trend Micro is taking a new approach to product development that relies more on cloud-based security than traditional downloading of virus-pattern files.

"The new strategy is called the Smart Protection Network," says Eva Chen, Trend Micro's CEO (pictured).

Existing antimalware defenses from Trend Micro revolve around signature-based pattern matching of viruses, which requires computers to receive updated pattern files, Chen points out. But this technique is growing unwieldy with several million new viruses discovered each year.

Looking ahead, Trend Micro envisions "moving the pattern files into the cloud," Chen says. Instead of downloading a huge pattern file, a Trend Micro "smart agent" on the desktop or server will read a file and calculate a hash code and checksum for it. The client-side product would utilize the cloud to check to see if the content is harmful.

"Signatures are added to the cloud, not the desktop," Chen says. The technique is expected to result in a software product that's about 70% less hefty in terms of code.

Trend Micro's strategy also calls for having a crawler scour the Web and producing a signature based on any malware found. "Nowadays, the hacker will hack a Web site or set up a phishing site," Chen says. "The end-user will be downloading files that are usually small programs that continue to download small components to evade detection, and this eventually becomes a bot."

Chen says Trend Micro's new approach will provide better protection against this type of threat. "We already include Web-threat protection to block users visiting those sites," she says.

Cloud-based security of this nature "is changing our product architecture and how we manage it," says Chen, who adds that the first versions of Trend Micro's Smart Protection Network products are expected out by year-end.

"We are using cloud computing because when you have a humungous amount of data and you have to search quickly, it's like an ocean."

In addition to its Smart Protection Network architecture strategy, Trend Micro also this week announced versions of its InterScan Web Security and Messaging Security products to work on VMware's ESX virtual-machine platform.

Both the InterScan Web Security Software Virtual Appliance and InterScan Messaging Security Software Virtual Appliance are expected to be available in the third quarter of this year. Pricing has not been set.

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