Startup Bromium takes aim at cloud security

The company will use a hypervisor to isolate and protect applications

Simon Crosby, the former CTO of Citrix Systems' data center and cloud business, has formed a startup called Bromium that will aim to solve security problems in a cloud environment.

Crosby founded Bromium along with Guarav Banga, former CTO and senior vice president at Phoenix Technologies, and Ian Pratt, chairman of Xen.org and co-founder of XenSource. Banga will be CEO while Crosby serves as CTO and Pratt will be senior vice president, products.

The company emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday as Crosby announced its mission at the Gigaom Structure conference in San Francisco. Bromium plans to use a hypervisor to provide servers and clients continuous protection from malware, Crosby said.

"We seem to have found a way to allow a hypervisor to do continuous protection of an executable piece of code," Crosby said.

Enterprises are worried about the security of cloud computing but the threat doesn't lie in the cloud, he said.

"The vast majority of attacks on enterprise private clouds happen through unprotected clients. It's you putting your private stuff and your work stuff on a relatively insecure client device," Crosby said.

Access to cloud-based resources from anywhere, on a variety of devices, requires a new approach to security, he said.

Locking down PCs hurts the user experience, and using virtual desktops provides greater security but still leaves enterprises vulnerable to harmful elements such as e-mail attachments, Crosby said. Applications are inherently vulnerable, so securing clients and data centers while giving users freedom requires a different approach, he said.

Bromium's technology will secure application clouds and virtual desktops as well as rich client devices, according to a slide Crosby showed at Structure. It will run on multiple processor platforms, including x86 and ARM, and will be optimized for mobile devices.

According to a press release on Tuesday, Bromium has raised US$9.2 million in venture capital and will introduce a product in the second half of this year. The company is based in Cupertino, California, and Cambridge, U.K.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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