Startup Aims for Meatier Signatures

New technology promises more visibility into threats, fewer false positives

A startup founded by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison next month will begin beta-testing an appliance based on its patent-pending technology aimed at stopping attackers and bot-herders before they hit client machines.

The network security device detects attacks differently than existing security products do, says Paul Barford, a computer scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of Nemean Networks LLC, which has been operating in stealth mode. Barford says Nemean's technology provides a more detailed look at malicious activity around the network. It also creates signatures for new attacks on the fly -- and the signatures are more detailed, so the device is less prone to generating false alarms, he says.

Nemean Networks, which was named after the Herculean myth of the Nemean lion whose coat is impenetrable by weapons, hopes to conclude its beta testing at several large enterprise companies within four to six months and then begin production of the appliance, which for now is being called the A1000.

"Our signatures are different from existing ones," Barford says. "The real difference is there is a lot more information embedded in them and they can be much less susceptible to false alarms," and a single signature can be used to detect a class of attack.

The Linux-based appliance also uses honeypot technology to help identify and analyze would-be attacks. "Our product is an information-gathering product... It's not active in blocking packets, so you still need active-blocking like firewalls. But we may move into that area" eventually, as well as add a client-side agent, he says.

"Our objective is to substantially enhance the visibility that network security analysts have on their IP infrastructure. The key word is 'situational awareness'... We want to move beyond the simple alert-generation standard for IDS systems today," Barford says. "We want to provide a broad perspective on all attack activity in the network and drill down on the minute details."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Kelly Jackson Higgins, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Editor-in-Chief 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 Magazine, Virginia Business magazine, and other major media properties. Jackson Higgins was recently selected as one of the Top 10 Cybersecurity Journalists in the US, and named as one of Folio's 2019 Top Women in Media. She began her career as a sports writer in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and earned her BA at William & Mary. Follow her on Twitter @kjhiggins.

Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, data breach information, and emerging trends. Delivered daily or weekly right to your email inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights