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Ex-Google Engineers Launch Web Security Startup

Dasient to offer real-time anti-malware monitoring service for Websites -- including a free service
A security startup founded by former Google engineers came out of stealth mode today and announced a new, real-time anti-malware monitoring service for Websites.

Dasient -- which is backed by a group of investors including former VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos -- officially began offering a free beta version of its Web Anti-Malware (WAM) service, as well as beta versions of its premium WAM service and companion quarantining service. "We're addressing a major issue that has been a fundamental change in how malware gets distributed on the Net...drive-by downloads on legitimate Websites," says co-founder Neil Daswani, former Google security engineer and product manager.

Daswani says Dasient's WAM is basically an anti-malware solution specifically for the Web that monitors sites using behavioral-based technology. It diagnoses infections, as well as gives Website owners solutions to fix the problems before their sites suffer from being blacklisted by search engines and browsers, he says.

"When a Website gets blacklisted, they [may not] know. Very often, they hear about it from their customers, and even once they are aware they've been infected or blacklisted, it's unclear what parts of their site have been infected," Daswani says.

Determining the source of the compromise can take days or weeks since it's mostly done manually, he says. "And in the meantime, the Website is off the air."

Dasient's WAM detects the problem, helps solve it, and can automatically quarantine the malware, he notes. It's a subscription-based service that does the monitoring from the "cloud," he says, and the quarantining service element requires a software module on the Web server.

"It is certainly a growing space, and Website owners are looking for this type of solution," says Jeremiah Grossman, CTO of WhiteHat Security, who says Dasient's solution would be complementary to WhiteHat's Website security services.

Ameet Ranadive, one of Dasient's co-founders and a former strategy consultant at McKinsey, says the startup's Web security approach goes beyond what a pure Web application firewall can do: "A WAF will only be able to defend against Web-based attack vectors. Gumblar, [for example], attacked sites' FTP credentials, compromised FTP passwords, and then injected malicious code. There was nothing a WAF could do there," Ranadive says.

Dasient's free WAM monitoring service alerts Websites when they land on blacklists, and the Premium Monitoring service proactively monitors for infections and alerts Websites before they get blacklisted. The Premium service starts at $50 per month, and the Quarantining service is currently in private beta testing. "We are looking forward to talking to Web hosting providers to give them the quarantine technology [to test]," Dasient's Daswani says.

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