Startup Launches Free Malware Blocker

Haute Secure comes out of stealth mode with freeware that can recognize and filter malware at the client

A new, free software tool promises to recognize incoming malware -- and prevent it from being loaded onto your computer.

Haute Secure, a startup that was founded last year and has received $500,000 in seed-round funding, today launched a beta version of its eponymous application, which runs on Windows. The free download, which is designed for individual users, is available to anyone who wants to kick its tires.

Haute Secure uses a special algorithm to reveal the behavior displayed by malware when it is trying to install itself on a client machine. When it sees this sort of behavior, it can react to prevent the installation from occurring, according to Steve Anderson, vice president of marketing for the startup.

"It sits at the kernel level in Windows and watches about 70 API calls," Anderson says. "It allows you to set rules of behavior for applications, and if those rules are violated, it can stop a download from occurring."

In addition, Haute Secure is collecting a database of malicious links -- both known and newly-discovered -- that it will use to help identify risky sites and downloads so that the malware never makes it to the machine, much less gets installed.

"There are tools that offer some of this functionality now, but when they find a problem, they block the entire site," Anderson observes. "What we're doing is allowing users to surf safely, without completely blocking them from the sites they want to go to."

Haute Secure also is developing server-side technology that will let enterprises check their systems for malware and prevent it from spreading across the organization. Eventually, the company plans to roll out a subscription service, but it probably will continue to offer the malware filter/blocker for free to PC users, Anderson says. "We see that functionality becoming a commodity."

For now, Haute Secure will compete for the attention of users who have experimented with Websense and McAfee's SiteAdvisor, Anderson acknowledges. "Those were good first attempts, and they were inspirations for us," he says. "But we think we're going farther."

A general release of the software is planned for September.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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