HP Looking to Ward off Viruses

By | December 1, 2004

HP announced today that they are working on software to “throttle” viruses which could ultimately slow the spread of viruses and worms. The software is currently running on 50 of HP’s servers and has already demonstrated a remarkable ability to allow the computers to continue functioning in spite of repeated virus infections.

The software, tentatively named Virus Throttler, is not meant to destroy threats or to protect against any particular viruses but is instead designed to identify suspicious behavior and take steps to protect the system from damage. In addition, if the software perceives an infection, it limits the computers functions to prevent the spread of viruses across the network.

“The oxygen that a virus breathes is its ability to propagate, and by taking away the ability to propagate, we throttle the virus,” said Tony Redmond, Hewlett-Packard´s chief technology officer. “Any worm or virus that depends on its ability to spread itself will be hurt by this technology.”

The software has not been tested on any other systems by any other companies, though HP says it does plan to sell the software to corporate customers sometime next year. It is unclear whether the intent is to bring the software to the consumer market at any point in the future.

Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, is supportive of the idea. “It´s an arms race, not a simple war,” he said. “I´ve been hearing people talk about the notion of throttling for a long time, and it´s a spectacular idea if HP can get it to work.”

Viruses are currently the #2 concern for corporate customers, behind spyware and malware. The trend is likely because no serious protection suites have been released to protect users from spyware or malware – even though industry insiders were hoping Microsoft’s monstrous Windows XP SP2 upgrade would take steps to do just that.

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