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11/19/2009
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In-Q-Tel Joins Forces With FireEye To Fight Cyberthreats

FireEye sells an out-of-band security appliance that monitors all inbound network traffic

The independent venture arm of the U.S. intelligence community, In-Q-Tel, has invested in cybersecurity company FireEye, the company announced Wednesday.

In-Q-Tel and FireEye didn't disclose terms of the agreement, or which intelligence agencies are particularly interested in the technology. However, in a release, they said that the investment "will extend FireEye's cyber security product development and stealth malware technical capabilities to protect against cyber threats."

The intelligence community has a clear interest in cybersecurity investment. At a conference earlier this month, deputy secretary of defense William Lynn said that more than 100 foreign intelligence agencies are actively trying to hack into federal government systems. The NSA recently announced plans to build a $1.5 billion cybersecurity data center in Utah.

California-based FireEye sells an out-of-band security appliance that monitors all inbound network traffic, employing a blend of signatures and heuristics to analyze traffic for evidence of suspicious behavior. After identifying suspicious traffic, the appliance captures and replays the traffic on virtual machines running in the appliance, which imitate real PCs. If those PCs are compromised, FireEye alerts administrators. By routing the traffic to a virtual machine, FireEye claims it is able to mitigate false positives. The virtual machines are invisible to the customer's production network.

FireEye claims that its products are especially useful for protection against zero-day malware attacks and botnets. "FireEye offers a valuable combination of next-generation malware protection, and its approach to detecting and defeating malware is unique and potentially game changing," T.J. Rylander, a partner at In-Q-Tel, said in a statement.

Recently, employees at FireEye took on a side project with other organizations to hijack, contain, and dismantle the Mega-D/Ozdok botnet, which may have been responsible for almost 5% of the world's spam.

In addition to In-Q-Tel, FireEye is funded by Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, JAFCO, SVB Capital, DAG Ventures, and Juniper Networks (NSDQ: JNPR). In January, InformationWeek named FireEye to its InformationWeek Startup 50.

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