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Startup Of The Week: Purewire

Purewire offers a cloud-based Web filtering service, including a unique reputation-based component.

The Web has become a popular vector for malware, and Purewire aims to make it a safer place. Companies route their Web traffic through Purewire's cloud service, which includes a URL-based Web filter, an engine to detect script-based attacks attempting to manipulate the browser, and a database of potentially untrustworthy parties.
--Andrew Conry-Murray


Purewire's executive team has Web security covered in the cloud

Purewire's executive team has Web security covered in the cloud


PRODUCT: Purewire Web Security Service

PRINCIPALS: Mark Caldwell, co-founder and VP of sales; Steve Raber, chairman and CEO; Brad McArthur, VP of operations; Paul Judge, CTO and co-founder; Michael Van Bruinisse, co-founder, president, and CEO

INVESTORS: Imlay Investments, private funding

EARLY CUSTOMERS: Technical College System of Georgia, S1

In addition to providing URL filtering and malware detection, Purewire's SaaS-based Web security service tracks the reputation of online entities. "Lots of content is generated by blogs and social networks," says co-founder Judge. "If I know more about the person, their security history, I can make a better decision about whether I should interact with them."

Social sites create more opportunities for attackers to sneak in malware, Judge says. "We give information about areas of the Web that are growing quickly and aren't in typical URL databases. That's usually where malicious code is embedded," says Judge. Purewire collects data on user profiles available from sources such as Facebook, eBay, Craigslist, and blogs. Classification algorithms look for suspicious behavior, such as the same e-mail address used for 1,000 different Facebook profiles.

The co-founders come from CipherTrust, acquired by Secure Computing in 2006. At CipherTrust, Judge helped create a reputation-based anti-spam technology. He's applying a similar idea to the Web.

Purewire has a unique approach to ferreting out the dark corners of the Web, and the SaaS-based security model has been validated in other areas, particularly e-mail. However, the company has its work cut out. It can't introduce significant latency into Web transactions or users will scream. Purewire insists it has latency under control. Also, I'm not convinced the reputation system has sufficient value to be worth the computing and development resources required to get it to scale.

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