Product Watch: Symantec Launches New Reputation-Based Product Line

'Ubiquity' harnesses anonymous data from millions of installed Symantec products



Symantec this week announced Ubiquity, its next-generation security technology that uses community-based reputation to fight evolving malware.

A result of more than four years of development, Ubiquity enables Symantec to harness the anonymous software usage patterns of more than 100 million Symantec customer computers to build a reputation-based defense against microdistributed, mutating threats that evade traditional security solutions.

Traditional protection requires security vendors to capture and analyze specific strains of malware before they can protect against them. In 2009 alone, Symantec discovered 240 million unique threat samples, the company said.

"Ten years ago, we were identifying five or 10 new viruses each week that needed to be blacklisted," says Gerry Egan, director of Symantec's Technology and Response unit. "Now we're identifying 10,000 to 15,000 new signatures every day. The old, signature-based model has become a bit long in the tooth."

Ubiquity takes a fundamentally different approach, Symantec says. It derives a security rating for each file, based on information about the context of the file -- where it came from, how old it is, and its adoption patterns across Symantec's user population -- in addition to other proprietary calculations.

While attackers can easily mutate a malware file's contents to make it invisible to traditional signatures, they have far less control over these crowd-based demographics, the company says.

In addition, Ubiquity reduces the impact of antivirus scanning by as much as 90 percent by scanning only those files it has identified as risky. This results in dramatically faster, fewer, and smarter scans, Symantec states.

In addition, Symantec is integrating its ratings for legitimate applications as well, creating a white list that Ubiquity can use to make more informed decisions about what files to block, reducing the likelihood of a false alert on a legitimate application.

The data provided by Ubiquity can be used to enable administrators to control what software enters their users' environments based on file policies that factor in file safety ratings, prevalence data, and discovery dates, Symantec says.

Ubiquity currently has safety ratings on more than 1.5 billion unique applications, making it one of the largest databases of its kind, Symantec says.

Based on Ubiquity data, Symantec has determined that more than 75 percent of malware affects fewer than 50 Symantec users. This statistic highlights the trend toward high-impact, low-distribution targeted threats and shows the need for reputation technology, the company states.

In addition to Ubiquity, Symantec this week announced the expansion of its encryption solution set. The company unveiled PGP Whole Disk Encryption with support for Intel Anti-Theft Technology; Symantec Endpoint Encryption (SEE) Removable Storage Edition with integrated Symantec Data Loss Prevention capabilities; Symantec Endpoint Encryption Device Control; and the newest version of Symantec Endpoint Encryption Full Disk Edition.

The new products are components of Symantec's integrated encryption platform, which includes technology recently acquired through the acquisition of PGP and features technologies for protecting data on assets ranging from USB flash drives to laptops to departmental servers.

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. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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