Bromium ships vSentry micro-hypervisor for foolproof Windows 7 security

Bromium ships vSentry micro-hypervisor for foolproof Windows 7 security

Summary: Bromium, a recently launched virtualization-based security company founded by the developers of Xen, started shipping today its highly touted micro-visor solution called vSentry that is said to end Windows desktop security problems once and for all.


Bromium started shipping today its highly touted micro-hypervisor called vSentry that is promised to solve Windows desktop security problems once and for all.

It's a big promise.  The client-side micro-hypervisor, which harnesses virtualization technology and exploits Intel’s VT technology, runs on Windows 7 64-bit desktops today. Versions for Macintosh, Windows 8 and other desktops will be available later, the recently launched company announced.

While most security solutions today focus on detecting and remediation of viruses and malware, Bromium’s solution harnesses the power of virtualization to prevent any attack by design, said key executives of the company, who actually designed the open source Xen hypervisor, launched and sold XenSource to Citrix and left to form Bromium about a year ago.

It’s a pretty promising technology for a seemingly age old and endless desktop headache for IT directors and end users. Simon Crosby, CTO and co-founder of Bromium,  said vSentry is designed as a rock solid security solution for the enterprise and assured that the use of the micro-visor will not impair desktop performance, which is, of course, a huge consideration.

He also said it is one of the few technologies that truly harnesses Intel's VT chip technology and would have prevented the RSA attack if it had been available at the time. "It makes the PC more fundamentally secure," said Crosby, noting that any malicious code executes within the micro-hypervisor and is completely isolated from files and operating system services.

Bromium's official press release elaborates on the how:

“vSentry transforms information and infrastructure protection with a powerful  new architecture built on the Bromium Microvisor; a security-focused hypervisor that automatically, instantly and invisibly hardware-isolates each vulnerable Windows task in a micro-VM that  cannot modify Windows or gain access to enterprise data or network infrastructure,” said the press release issued today. “ vSentry protects desktops that have not been patched, defeats and automatically discards malware, and eliminates costly remediation - keeping users productive at all times.  “

This quote comes directly from the press release issued today, but the security expert is former CIA security dude.  It’s compelling, since Bromium claims its micro-visor is effective not just for preventing  routine security problems but for preventing cyber-terrorism and cyber-theft.

“Bromium micro-virtualization is the most significant advance in information and infrastructure security in decades,” said Bob Bigman, president at 2BSecure and former CISO of the Central Intelligence Agency. “Sophisticated attackers can evade traditional protection tools, compromise the endpoint and penetrate deeper into the infrastructure.  vSentry protects by design, allowing undetectable attacks to be automatically defeated.” 

vSentry, which protects against malicious websites, documents, and attachments, is  deployed as a standard MSI package and configured via simple policies using Microsoft Active Directory, Bromium announced. Pricing is based on volume and licensed on a per-user enterprise-wide basis.

Topics: Virtualization, Security

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  • Wow, what a bunch of nonsense

    Most business software needs access to *some* level of important information that could be vulnerable to attacks. An operating system by definition is designed to run 3rd party software. The big problem is accurately identifying which software is safe and which is malware. Anti-malware uses blacklists and whitelists to identify which of the software should have access to that data. A hypervisor has no such information so really I fail to see how any claims can be made that it will magically cure this problem.

    "defeats and automatically discards malware"

    And how exactly does it identify this malware? That's where the problem usually lies.

    Snake Oil folks.
    • well...

      it sounds like it actually lets the code execute in a sandbox. This is different because their not using definitions or heuristics to guess what a program will do once it's launched, they launch it and watch what it does. It's easier to detect a virus when one program calls word.exe and the other starts wiping out dll's. This isn't exactly a new idea but there taking it to the next level by incorporating it on (eventually) all endpoints. I agree isn't not foolproof and as soon as one person says it is another will put in a proof on concept of how it's vulnerable, still, I'm possibly interested
      Joshua Tuman
    • Nonsense? -- don't think so

      The application does not try to identify malware. The administrator identifies critical applications such as email, web browsers, pdf readers etc and puts them in a vSentry list. vsentry executes them in a hardware (VT-x isolated) VM that restricts its access to only the memory and data the application needs so that any malware or virus cannot break out of it's VM. Its a more secure sandbox, enforced through the use of the intel VT-x/MMU instruction set.

      It most certainly raises the bar for hackers. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.
  • Foolproof? HAHAHAHA. I dont think any hypervisor is foolproof?

    No reason to believe a micro visor would be any different.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Read Rutkowska's analysis

    It does come over as snake oil and there is insufficient technical detail to conclude otherwise.

    It made me think of Qubes OS. Qubes OS is also trying to create a secure OS using Xen and VT technology but Joanna Rutkowska discusses the technical issues and limitations in considerable detail. And it's not easy.

    She has some interesting comments on Bromium here: