Shields Up — EarthLink Adds Sana Security

By Lauren Simonds | Posted February 01, 2007

You need to keep your business safe from the vast assortment of digital vermin that threaten to infect your PCs. But they morph and evolve so quickly, it feels like an impossible task. In an effort to address this issue, and to offer its customers even more security protection, EarthLink, one of the largest Internet Service Providers, joined forces with Sana Security, a leading security software company. The result is Protection Control Center with Attack Shield, a service Earthlink now offers to anyone, regardless of his or her ISP.

EarthLink's Protection Control Center provides anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall and anti-phishing protection, and is available for free to Earthlink subscribers. Attack Shield is EarthLink's name for a proactive technology developed by Sana Security that can detect malware — and remove it — without having to wait for updated definitions or signatures. Sana Security markets the same technology under the name SafeConnect, and Earthlink is the first ISP to offer it to the general public.

The traditional method of fighting malware involves a signature-based technology. Once major security companies identify a type of malware, they create a specific signature for it and send updates out to customers so that their PCs can then recognize, detect and protect against that particular piece of malware. A newer technology is behavior-based, and it helps detect unknown viruses and other malware that don't yet have signatures. This approach looks for behavior patterns that are similar to other malware and then contains and quarantines the threat.

As EarthLink worked to improve the Control Center's ease of use and the level of protection, Ben Kaplan, a senior product manager, says it became clear that adding a proactive element made the most sense, which led them to Sana's technology. "Malware propagates at an alarming rate. A new form of it appears at a rate of one every three minutes," he says. "Most anti-virus labs are running between five to 20 days behind, and it takes 15 to 16 days to create a new signature for each virus."

Behavioral methods, which have been around for two or three years, do offer additional value because they're faster, says Tim Eades, senior vice president of Marketing at Sana. But they're still limited because they merely capture and contain the malware.

"The malware still resides on the customer's PC," says Eades. "It's like coming home to find a criminal locked in the back room. You're stuck having to trust the lock when you'd really rather have him removed from the premises."

Sana's technology is designed to monitor PCs for malware behavior in real-time, determine if it is malicious and if so, remove it from the computer. And it does so without having to wait for signatures or definition updates. "When malware infects your PC, it installs lots of different components into different areas of the hard drive, and they're tough to remove completely. What's more, any remnant components will re-infect the computer. Attack Shield removes the malware in its entirety," says Eades.

EarthLink provides its Basic Protection Control Center 2.0 service — which includes virus, spyware, phishing and firewall protection — to its customers for free. Adding Attack Shield is a premium service that costs $2.95 a month or $24 a year.

If you're not an EarthLink customer, you can purchase Protection Control Center with Attack Shield for $3.95 a month or $36 per year.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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