Webroot plots the end of desktop security

May 1, 2008 – 5:17 AM

Security’s rising star, Webroot, plans to offer web and malware filtering as a service to SMBs, the first vendor of any size to offer such a capability in subscription form.

The software-as a service (SaaS) model, which extends the email filtering service already offered by the company, will appeal to smaller and medium-sized outfits for whom keeping out web threats with conventional security appliances is now proving increasingly onerous.

Expected to go live in the US in June, the unnamed service will mean business running web traffic through Webroot datacentres where it will be filtered for suspicious URLs, web-borne downloads such as Trojans, and vulnerability malware trying to exploit known software holes.

When run with the company’s email filtering service, the idea is that the bulk of an SMB’s traffic security problems will have been taken care of. Although it can in principle replace desktop anti-malware, the company still recommends users run desktop software as a second line of defence and to intercept threats when using third-party pipes while roaming.

“The advantage of the service model is that you have unlimited computing power and you can do much more. You also have greater visibility [on threats] because you have all the traffic. You can see patterns of outbreak very quickly that you will never see on the desktop,” said Webroot’s CTO Gerhard Eschelbeck.

He said that the system would be able to stop filtering bypass hacks such as proxy websites, even if they were previously unknown. That is the worry – that cleverer users attempt to bypass filtering services by opening encrypted tunnels to proxy sites.

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