Bromium protects hosted desktops and Windows XP with its Microvisor

The company also has plans for Android and Mac OS

Bromium has upgraded its security platform vSentry, which uses virtualization to isolate malicious code, to protect virtual desktops and old Windows XP PCs.

The vSentry platform is powered by Bromium's so-called Microvisor, which isolates vulnerable Windows tasks in a specifically tailored virtual machine that can't modify Windows or gain access to enterprise data or network infrastructure. Bromium can isolate, for example, a browser tab.

Consequently, any malicious code in the virtual machine is prevented from doing whatever harm it was designed for and all the while the user experience remains unchanged, according to Simon Crosby, CTO at Bromium.

"The system becomes naturally immune against infections from even undetectable malware, which then gets automatically discarded," Crosby said.

The first iteration of vSentry was compatible with desktops running the 64-bit version of Windows 7, and started shipping in September.

Version 1.1 of vSentry also protects the 32-bit version of Windows 7 as well as virtual desktops delivered using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services, XenDesktop from Citrix Systems, or VMware's View, according to Bromium.

Virtual desktops are vulnerable to exactly the same attacks as native PCs, according to Crosby.

Bromium's technology is made possible thanks to the hardware-based virtualization technology Intel integrates in its processors, but that also means it won't work on older PCs.

To address that, Bromium has adopted its technology so it can be used to protect machines running Windows XP, as well. It does that by running all untrusted activities on a server using Remote Desktop Services.

However, even if the company can now protect Windows XP machines, it still advises enterprises to upgrade their desktops to a more modern version of Windows.

"People should be getting off XP, because it is much more vulnerable than Windows 7 or Windows 8. There is no reason to be hanging on to it," Crosby said.

Version 1.1 of vSentry also includes Live Attack Visualization and Analysis (LAVA), a feature that was previously included in beta form, but is now generally available.

Today, enterprises lack accurate information about what is happening on their desktops, but Bromium is hoping to change that, according to Crosby.

The narrow scope of the code running in any one of Bromium's tiny hypervisors makes analyzing what's happening in it much easier, and LAVA takes advantage of that to create signatures of attacks.

"It automatically produces all the forensic information that a security team might want to see to be able to reconstruct an attack, and understand how a hacker tried to compromise the system," Crosby said.

The data from LAVA is presented using XML, and can be fed into a security information management system.

Also, like any new vendor in the post-PC era, Bromium has plans for other operating systems besides Windows.

"Next year we will have a product for Mac OS, and we are also working on a products for Android, Windows 8 and so on," Crosby said.

Avid followers of the virtualization sector may recognize Crosby's name. Prior to co-founding Bromium he helped start virtualization pioneer XenSource, which was acquired by Citrix in 2007. Crosby then was CTO for Citrix's Virtualization and Management division.

XenSource co-founder Ian Pratt is also a co-founder at Bromium, where his title is senior vice president, products. Bromium's third co-founder, CEO Gaurav Banga, previously worked at Phoenix Technologies.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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