Creating the next level of protection

Bitdefender has been a major player in the security vendor market and its newest release will put it at the forefront, writes Quinton O’Reilly

12th March, 2017
Jamie Pearce, regional sales director, UK and Ireland at Bitdefender

Having been around for 15 years, Bitdefender has established itself as one of the premier security vendors in the world.

In that timeframe, it’s seen and dealt with a large number of threats, but with the shift from physical technology to virtual such as cloud services, the challenge in trying to maintain security levels without hindering the business continues to be a challenge, according to Jamie Pearce, regional sales director, UK and Ireland at Bitdefender.

“Every company is trying to take advantage of virtualisation or cloud services, said Pearce. “All the while, they’re still trying to maintain the same high level of security for the business on these new platforms, but at the same time, without it impeding on the business, holding back the transformation of the business.

“Security should be an enabler for that, not a disabler to that business moving in these ways.”

Part of the problem is the growing prevalence of ransomware, malware and other Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). With malware alone, more than 400,000 different variants are discovered every day, posing a greater challenge for companies like Bitdefender to cope with.

While most of them share similarities, different strands have different signatures, meaning traditional methods aren’t enough to simply defend against it.

With Internet of Things devices becoming more prevalent, the number of devices that can be infected grows exponentially.

According to Pearce, the company protects over 500 million endpoints globally – such endpoints include PCs, mobile devices and other connected hardware.

Not only is that the most endpoints protected by any other anti-malware vendor, but it gives it a massive amount of data regarding threat intelligence.

The key goal was to deliver simplicity, still providing enterprise-class security that’s easy to deploy and very simple to manage . . . it’s scalable, so that’s the constant goal, being able to maintain enterprise-level security suitable for any size of business

Using that real-time data, it can then spot threats, identify trends and further improve its own services. One of those ways is through machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

While other vendors offer similar functionality, Bitdefender has been using it since 2009, giving it a major advantage.

“The real value in machine learning and AI is the amount of time it’s been learning and the amount of data it’s seen to learn from,” said Pearce. “It’s eight years [of learning], and it’s something we knew we had to develop because signatures were never going to be enough.”

Tying into that is the launch of its new service this month called Hypervisor Introspection (HVI) which goes a step further by analysing the raw hypervisor memory – a hardware virtualisation technique which allows multiple operating systems to run on a single host system at the same time.

Developed with Citrix and Intel, it’s to help combat stealth attacks which are something businesses have trouble defending against.

In 2016 alone, it would take companies an average of five months to discover they were breached by such attacks, and HVI aims to stop that.

To put it simply, it adds an extra layer of protection that traditional anti-malware products can’t see, something that Pearce said was part of Bitdefender’s “constant development to find new market leading ways to provide the next level of malware protection”.

“Any violation within the raw hypervisor memory is a telltale sign that an advanced and persistent threat is present,” said Pearce.

“In a normal scenario, a normal anti-malware product can’t see that and it’s not a failure of an anti-malware product because before now, they didn’t have visibility of that level within the hypervisor”.

It’s also a discovery technique, typically it can take at least five months before an APT can be discovered . . . you don’t know what damage it’s done or what info it’s collected in that time so by using technologies like HVI, you can go out and discover if there is an APT-type malware present in a system.

While the main focus has been on identifying new and harder-to-detect threats, the other side of the business focuses on simplicity of use.

As companies are using more of a mix of products, virtual, physical, mobile and cloud-based services to name a few, a suite protecting that must match up.

“We saw very early on, the move to what you might call today’s hybrid infrastructure . . . so five years ago, we completely re-architected our product, GravityZone, for that reason,” said Pearce.

“[It’s] designed to protect all those environments, physical, virtual, mobile and cloud, and what we’ve done is we’ve one application, one management console, one intelligent agent which is deployed to these various endpoints.

“During that re-architecture, the key goal was to ultimately deliver that [simplicity], still providing enterprise-class security that’s easy to deploy and very simple to manage . . . it’s scalable, so that’s the constant goal, being able to maintain that enterprise-level security suitable for any size of the business, with new security features being added, but you have to keep things simple to manage and maintain otherwise businesses will just struggle.”

That’s useful for smaller businesses which don’t necessarily have the time or resources to dedicate to security.

Its background in the consumer business means it has experience in making products simple to use and understand, and businesses are no different.

“We learned a lot from that side of the business,” said Pearce. “It helps us make sure all of our enterprise and corporate products also maintain that simple user deployment and management.”

Currently, Bitdefender has placed a major focus on the Irish market, partnering with security distributors like Renaissance to help out. The main focus will be virtualised and cloud environment, but it will also aid with MSP-type (Managed Service Provider) services as well as Security as a Service (SaaS).

“It’s really important to use that local support that we have, hence the relationship with Renaissance,” said Pearce

“That was the first thing that we did when we started building our plans and developing our business in Ireland. We’ve people in our UK team driving that business and regularly been in Ireland to work alongside Renaissance.

“That’s important, enabling and supporting the local security is part of our plan and we know we need to be successful in that market.”

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