5 IT Security Breakthroughs Promise to Thwart Threats

Security labs — such as at Symantec, VeriSign, McAfee, Kaspersky and Kindsight — are developing technology that could strengthen your IT security policies. The projects include stopping rootkits at the silicon level and preventing employees from leaking confidential data in the cloud.

For the past 25 years, a war has waged between malicious programmers and the researchers trying to make computing safe for the enterprise. The battle has shown no signs of subsiding — once a new countermeasure is deployed, the hackers find new ways to make IT worried.

"Almost all malicious software comes from the Web, but the Web is becoming much more transactional," says Gartner analyst Peter Firstbrook, referring to corporate America's growing reliance on Web sites like Salesforce.com to conduct business. Yet, he says that as many as 60 percent of all publicly accessible Websites are infected with malware. That means the enterprise needs to deploy ever-more-intelligent systems to combat these threats.

Meanwhile, the world's top security labs — such as those operated by Symantec, VeriSign, McAfee, Kaspersky and Kindsight — are working on innovative countermeasures that will soon make their way to the gateway appliances used in data centers, and none too soon. Here are five approaches security experts are taking to help beat the bad guys:

1. Monitor Hackers' Tweets to Flag Suspicious Websites

In the movie "Minority Report," agents used "precognitive" techniques to stop a murder from happening. At Verisign Labs, new research conducted with Purdue University shows how predictive analysis can stop infections from occurring, helping the enterprise stay one step ahead of hackers.

The idea is to scan the publicly available Twitter activity of hackers and compare discussions about specific domains with existing threat databases, in order to assign a security "reputation" to Website domains. For example, hackers may discuss creating a new Web site to exploit a scandal in the news; if the new site is registered and code quickly appears after the Twitter discussion, the site would be flagged as malicious.

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