Akld firm claims new tool in virus war

Auckland company Ripple Effects has changed its name to SentryBay and claims to have created a new weapon in the antivirus war.

Auckland company Ripple Effects has changed its name to SentryBay and claims to have created a new weapon in the antivirus war.

The company’s CEO Dave Waterson describes ViraLock as a virus locker rather than a virus blocker.

Blockers, he says, work by attempting to stop a virus from entering the PC, whereas ViraLock lets the virus in the machine but stops it spreading via email.

The concept has been tested by Clark Thomborson and students in the University of Auckland computer science department. Thomborson says it succeeded in halting virus spread.

“The viruses could not figure out the email addresses because they were encrypted.”

The university is looking to evaluate it further for internal use, he says.

ViraLock sits between a firm’s email clients and mail server, encrypting email addresses in address books and email folders on incoming mail and decrypting addresses on outgoing mail.

It works with Micro-soft Outlook and Outlook Express, with versions promised for Netscape, Eudora, Pegasus Mail and Juno. It incorporates up to 128-bit key encryption and is compatible with versions of Windows from 98 through to XP. It was developed using a combination of C++ and Java, the company says.

Waterson believes ViraLock goes some way to preventing the spread of viruses, as emails are responsible for 87% of virus replication, he says. He views ViraLock as complementary to other antivirus solutions rather than as an alternative to them.

ViraLock was developed from Waterson’s former product, PrivateBase, which was released a year ago. It was set for a February unveiling but Waterson says extra time was needed to improve the product and add more features. PrivateBase worked by keeping the email addresses outside the browser, so viruses could not propagate themselves through address books. Moreover, PrivateBase affected the way emails had to be sent whereas ViraLock allows emails to be sent the usual way.

Waterson says outgoing email that passes through ViraLock is stamped with a message so recipients know such emails should be virus-free.

Arjen de Landgraaf of Albany-based Co-Logic Security says the principle of stopping viruses by encrypting email addresses is so simple he is surprised no one has thought of it before. He believes ViraLock will be an effective bolt-on to other antivirus methods.

However, Christchurch antivirus specialist Nick FitzGerald says the method used by ViraLock would be ineffective against viruses like the Klez family, which can also spread through the hard drive.

SentryBay, which exhibited at trade show Comdex in Atlanta last week, has opened a California office headed by Kiwi Marcus Whittington, former director of management consultant Franchise Consultants. Two undisclosed New Zealand investors have a stake in the company.

ViraLock will be downloadable from October 15.

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