Symantec Labs working on SiteAdvisor alternative

Symantec Labs is developing new systems to rate the security of Web sites and downloadable files

Symantec researchers are working on a pair of projects to give Norton users a better idea of whether the Web sites they visit or the files they download are trustworthy.

"We're actually looking into reputation-based security systems, both for Web sites and for files," said Stephen Trilling, vice president of Symantec Research Labs. The projects have been quietly under development since the latter part of last year, he said.

Although the area of reputation-based security is relatively new, there are already a number of companies that use the technology, because it is considered a promising technique for thwarting previously unknown threats. McAfee's SiteAdvisor, for example, scours the Web and runs tests on Web sites to see if they do things like serve up malicious code or spam visitors.

And Google recently opened up access to its blacklist of malicious Web sites, which the search giant generates by searching the Internet in a similar fashion.

Though Trilling declined to talk about specifics, he said that Symantec has some new ideas on how to better warn users of suspicious Web pages. "We certainly are looking initially at protecting people from malicious threats," he said. "That's our primary goal."

The file-based evaluations could be derived from data generated by Symantec users, he said. "The challenge here is you can't simply ask people what was their experience with this file," he said. "You need some sort of automated way to derive reputation information from people's patterns of downloading."

Symantec Labs has created another Web security technology, called Canary, that blocks sites from downloading malicious code. Canary is expected to ship with Norton's next refresh of its client security products, due later this year, but it is separate from the Web- and file-rating systems, Trilling said. "Canary is not based on leveraging any desktop-voting or reputation-based system at all," he said.

No decision has yet been made on whether to move the reputation-based projects into Symantec's products, but the Web reputation systems is further along in development Trilling said.

Symantec's estimated 50 million antivirus software users give it an advantage when it comes to generating reliable reputation data, said Adam O'Donnell, a senior research scientist with Cloudmark Inc., which sells a reputation-based e-mail filtering system. "The challenge for Symantec is going to be absorbing all the various inputs and issuing a response in a timely fashion."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?