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Security Startups Make Debut

Veracode debuts on-demand software security analysis service, and Provilla, endpoint data-leakage appliance

Two security startups will debut today, offering new methods for analyzing software security and detecting potential leaks.

The two companies -- Veracode, an application security service provider, and Provilla, a data leak prevention vendor -- have both been operating quietly for several months but are officially entering the market today.

Veracode, founded by Chris Wysopal and other former executives of @stake, is now offering patented binary-code analysis of software for enterprises that want to analyze their software's security on a regular basis. The ASP will also offer security reviews of enterprise products and security analysis of third-party apps for software developers.

"We are more accurate than source-code analyzers," says Matthew Moynahan, CEO of Veracode and former vice president of consumer products and solutions division at Symantec. Veracode is also made up of software security experts from Guardent, ISS, and VeriSign.

Moynahan says Veracode isn't just performing vulnerability analysis with its SecurityReview services. "An application could be vulnerability-free but have a hole the size a truck could drive through if certain functionality isn't present in that application." Veracode not only checks for vulnerabilities and malicious code, but also the "absence or presence of security functionality," he says. The company also conducts manual penetration testing and annual code review services.

But Veracode does not provide manual analysis. "We pass the baton if you want manual analysis on top of this," Moynahan says. "You can hire a Matasano or someone else... Our output makes their manual efforts that much more directed and efficient."

So what happens when Veracode's service finds flaws? Customers get reports that include suggestions for remediation, and Moynahan says Veracode's software-as-a-service model is lowering the price point in application security solutions. The company would not disclose specific pricing details.

"If you find a problem in the binary with a tool like this, how are you going to fix it?" says Gary McGraw, CTO with Cigital, a consulting firm that focuses on software security. "I laud them for this, but I would prefer they fix them [the problems] rather than spray-painting everything orange. If you find a problem in binary, you have to fix it in source code, and you may not even have the source code."

"If you're trying build a better badness-ometer, this is cheaper than hiring a bunch of reformed hackers," McGraw says. "However, if you want real security analysis you have to go past the binary, past the source code, and actually consider the design."

Still, there's no way to build completely clean code, Moynahan notes. "You're never going to strip all vulnerabilities out of applications," he says. "But [Veracode's services] let [developers] prioritize, with the time and money they have, [and] meet their shipment cycles."

The other startup, Provilla, sells an appliance and accompanying client software that runs in the background of client machines and alerts security managers when a user tries to move, send, or cut-and-paste sensitive data. The company has already begun shipping its LeakProof-100 and LeakProof-500 appliances and client utilities for Windows.

Benjamin Powell, security architect for a financial services company, which he asked not to be named, has been testing the appliance for several months and is now in the process of going operational with it for the company's 1,000 users. "This product is one of the only ones that can stop hacks from U3 USB devices... out of the box and without any configuration."

It's more effective than a network-based data leakage approach, Powell says, because it prevents a laptop user from copying sensitive data onto a USB, a CD, or sending it over Bluetooth, or via WiFi to another access point. "The network-based [data leakage] solutions work on a regular network, but if a user circumvents the network, you don't see anything."

Powell says of the products he tested, Provilla's was unique in that it "fingerprinted" sensitive data. "You have the ability to do keyword-type matching, by credit card number, and email address, and you can define certain types of data."

Provilla is focusing on distributed, mobile data environments, says Glen Kosaka, vice president of marketing for Provilla. And the LeakProof endpoint agent can work online or offline, he says. "If a user were to take a confidential document, edit and save it as another file, move text around, or cut-and-paste it into an email body, it would still detect it."

The software develops a signature for sensitive documents or data and intercepts any data leakage activity at the client. The company also offers a free utility called LeakSense, a software-only version of LeakProof that discovers and monitors data use in an organization.

Pricing for LeakProof starts at $20,000 per year for 50 to 100 endpoints and costs anywhere from $30 to $50 per endpoint for large enterprises, 100-1,000 endpoints and 1,000+ endpoints, respectively.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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  • Provilla Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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