Security software startup Bromium is shipping its first product, a virtualization client that runs any untrusted content inside its very own virtual machine -- a microVM -- protecting the underlying operating system and whatever content is stored on the physical machine from theft and malware infection.
The software, VSentry, is aimed at stopping threats that have never been seen before and so can't be detected by signature-based defenses. It also lets end users access whatever content they want to without risk of infecting their own machines or other machines on corporate networks, the company says.
[ Security expert Roger A. Grimes offers a guided tour of the latest threats and explains what you can do to stop them in "Fight Today's Malware," InfoWorld's Shop Talk video. | Keep up with key security issues with InfoWorld's Security Adviser blog and Security Central newsletter. ]
The software filters applications, Web pages, attachments -- anything that customers define with a rule set -- and automatically runs them in separate microVMs, which are destroyed when users are done with each task.
For example, if all Internet content is considered untrusted, anything downloaded from the Internet runs in a microVM that is set up on the fly within 30 milliseconds so the user experiences no perceptible delay.
This process ensures that malicious content or code can't access anything else on the machine, says Gaurav Banga, Bromium's CEO. Hundreds of microVMs can run at one time.
Whatever task is running inside a microVM has access to what appears to be an unused Windows 7 computer with no access to files and file systems other than what is necessary to run the process with the microVM. If a Web browser accesses an untrusted website it has visited before and for which it has cookies, VSentry will supply the cookies to the microVM, Banga says.
If the site updates its cookies during that visit they are retained for use the next time the browser visits that site, he says. If a browser opens up multiple windows, each window gets its own microVM which remains open until that window is shut down.
Untrusted content that moves from computer to computer within an enterprise -- such as shared documents -- moves with a provenance stamp on it that indicates whether or not it should be opened in a microVM, preventing a document with malicious code embedded in it from permeating the network, he says.
Underlying these microVMs is the Microvisor, similar to a hypervisor but that generates virtual environments for individual objects rather than entire virtual computers. The goal of VSentry is to protect the operating system from corruption, Banga says.