HP Jumps into Enterprise Antivirus Realm with Virus Throttle

Hewlett-Packard has announced antivirus software aimed at controlling the spread of viruses across corporate networks in an apparent bid to boost its server sales.

The company also announced that HP Labs is collaborating with two prominent partners to test new damage-containment security software aimed at preventing certain viruses from corrupting entire systems.

The new HP software, called Virus Throttle, addresses the increasingly malicious nature of today’s worms and viruses and the rapid rate at which they spread across networks. The company said the software addresses this problem by helping businesses detect, contain and slow the rate at which an attack spreads inside the core of the IT infrastructure.

‘Intelligent’ Software

“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 for HP Security Office and HP Services.

Basex chief analyst and CEO Jonathan Spira told the E-Commerce Times that HP is doing this for one reason: to give their server line a much-needed boost.

“One might assume that security is not their business, but when providing large organizations with dozens, if not hundreds, of servers, finding ways of protecting the network via the server may be a key competitive advantage,” Spira said.

HP said Virus Throttle takes a non-traditional approach to virus protection. Traditional virus scanning products — which often rely on existing virus signatures provided by third parties — can be ineffective at protecting against new viruses, which can spread in a matter of seconds.

In contrast, Virus Throttle detects abnormal, virus-like behavior and slows down the number of different connections an infected machine can make until an administrator can determine if the problem is viral in nature and take further action.

Virus Throttle monitors network connection requests and detects abnormal activity of the type typically exhibited by a worm or virus that is attempting to propagate itself within a network. The faster a virus tries to spread itself, the faster Virus Throttle reacts — and it reacts automatically, typically in milliseconds, without waiting for human attention.

“HP has indeed introduced an innovative approach to the costly menace of software viruses,” Spira said. “Unlike traditional antivirus tools, the HP Virus Throttle will detect abnormal behavior that resembles that of a virus and slow down the server, limiting the connections it makes, until a determination can be made.”

Heated Market

Virus Throttle is designed to run without interference to normal system or networking operation and only affects the viral process, while all normal traffic continues unimpeded. Once a worm or virus is detected, Virus Throttle inhibits it from making network connections and, thus, chokes off its ability to propagate. Virus Throttle flags the presence of the worm or virus to the system administrator, who can then take the appropriate action to remove it from the system.

Originally developed in HP Labs, the software is now available for HPProLiant servers in a special pack and for ProCurve Networking by HP 5300 switches.

Analysts said the market for antivirus software just got a little hotter. Should major security vendors be concerned?

“I think that companies such as Dell and IBM will have more to be concerned about than major security vendors,” Spira said. “HP is now offering something that you can’t get on other servers. The challenges are that HP does not have an established track record in this area, nor does its new technology have one. Time will tell.”

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