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2/16/2012
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CIA Hunts For Malware In Binary Code

Agency invests in ReversingLabs, whose TitaniumCore software analyzes code at its most basic level to identify anomalies that might be malware.

Slideshow: Who's Who In U.S. Intelligence
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The CIA is investing in security technology that analyzes application code at the binary level to help identify anomalies that might indicate the presence of malware.

In-Q-Tel (IQT), a CIA-based nonprofit that identifies emerging technologies to support the U.S. intelligence community, has struck a strategic partnership with ReversingLabs, which offers technology for the rapid analysis of unknown binary content, according to IQT.

Specifically, ReversingLabs' TitaniumCore platform decomposes code and attempts to analyze every file in a system, kicking out anything that it doesn't recognize as being legitimate code so those bits can then be analyzed for malware.

Although binary analysis tools like the company offers are widely used to find any strange code coming into the enterprise, most look for malware by identifying code that's recognized to be bad. TitaniumCore's analysis of all of the code in an enterprise sets it apart from these tools.

[ Hackers have embarrassed the CIA. See LulzSec Claims Credit For CIA Site Takedown. ]

The data resulting from the analysis can be mapped against ReversingLabs' database of artifacts on more than 100 TB of goodware and 30 terabytes of malware files, according to IQT. This allows security pros to analyze unknown threats even with a large volume of code samples.

IQT will develop ReversingLabs' technology for the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, which is one of IQT's customer agencies.

In return, the company's technology--which has broad appeal for enterprise customers outside of the intelligence community as well--will get more visibility with its potential market, said Mario Vuksan, company CEO, in a press statement.

"Our partnership with IQT will create new opportunities for leveraging ReversingLabs' versatile and multifunctional binary analysis and scalable cloud-based technologies into related applications," he said.

The CIA launched In-Q-Tel in 1999 as an independent entity to find useful new technologies to support the intelligence community's mission.

Security technologies have been a particular area of investment over the past year, with In-Q-Tel striking deals with companies that offer continuous monitoring of security infrastructure; secure virtualization technology; and technology that protects PCs from visual eavesdroppers.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

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