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Kiwi Firm Develops Unique Anti-Virus Weapon


Kiwi Firm Develops Unique Anti-Virus Weapon

New Zealand software developer SentryBay Corporation has launched a new weapon in the war against email viruses and set its sights on a piece of a billion-dollar-plus industry.

SentryBay’s product, ViraLock™, is the first software to prevent the spread of computer viruses by email. Designed by developers who analysed virus replication from a completely different perspective than normal – trapping viruses instead of trying to identify and block them – ViraLock encrypts email addresses in Microsoft Outlook™ and Outlook Express™ email programs. Confronted by ViraLock, invading viruses cannot find and use email addresses to escape from the user’s system and infect new users.

SentryBay executives will present ViraLock to world IT media at the COMDEX Fall 2002 trade show in Las Vegas next week.

“ViraLock is the missing half of the anti-virus solution,” says Marcus Whittington, Vice President Marketing for SentryBay. The software is compatible with, and complementary to, major anti-virus software products including Norton AntiVirus™ and McAfee VirusScan™ and does not require regular updating to be effective.

“Anyone who has ever been hit by a mass-mailing virus has experienced the embarrassment, cost and damage to reputation from passing a virus to business contacts, family and friends. Also at risk is the potential spreading of confidential information with the virus,” says Mr Whittington.

Founded in April 2000 by Chief Executive Officer Dave Waterson, SentryBay has already opened a California office to spearhead its efforts in the US market.

Since last December, the company has been working through the exclusive accelerator programme at The Icehouse, the Auckland-based high-tech business incubator.

Icehouse CEO Andrew Hamilton says SentryBay is a prime example of what The Icehouse was established to achieve.

“We’re here to create, support and grow great international New Zealand businesses. SentryBay has taken an innovative idea and made an international success story out of it in a very short time.”

SentryBay’s engineers refined ViraLock from software developed initially as a grassroots, shareware product called “PrivateBase.” They used The Icehouse’s links to The University of Auckland to test the anti-virus solution with Professor Clark Thomborson and his students in The University of Auckland computer science department.

Professor Thomborson says the product succeeded in halting the spread of viruses. “The viruses couldn’t figure out the email addresses because they were encrypted.”

The war on email viruses is never-ending. In recent months new viruses have been written to circumvent existing anti-virus software, randomly snatch information stored in email messages, and replicate by sending those random bits of information to every email address in the infected computer’s email program. Anti-virus solutions other than ViraLock focus on detecting and blocking this type of virus contamination. The user must continually update the software to ensure maximum protection – which is still never 100%.

“With ViraLock installed, part of this problem is solved,” Mr Whittington says. “ViraLock does not replace current anti-virus software. It offers ‘trapping’ protection in the event a mass-mailing virus gets in. The virus can’t mail itself out. With clever ‘social engineering’ taking place to trick computer users into opening infected e-mails, ViraLock is an essential addition to virus protection.”

ViraLock stops mass-mailing viruses such as Klez and Bugbear as well as new, unidentified viruses. Released for individual PC and laptop users, ViraLock can be downloaded at www.viralock.com for US$19.95.

Small businesses can also use the software installed on stand-alone PCs and laptops to prevent users from spreading viruses. An enterprise version of the software will be released next year for use in server networks.

The anti-virus software market, currently worth $1.4 billion annually (according to the SCI/FBI Computer Crime and Security survey in the US), is growing at 24% per annum. An estimated 11 billion emails are sent every day, and IDC experts are predicting 36 billion emails per day by 2005.

The next generation of anti-virus software from SentryBay will be designed to prevent the spread of viruses through Instant Messaging, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), and mobile phone (WAP) products.


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