Tired of being the family IT guy? Jumpshot promises relief on a USB stick

Veteran security pros looking for Kickstarter funding to take the pain out of fixing computer problems.
Written by Ryan Naraine, Contributor


Hands up if you are your family's IT guy and you are constantly grumbling your way through malware/crapware removals and start-up tweaks to bring a Windows machine back to life.  You're not alone.

pedram_aminiPedram Amini

Pedram Amini and Dave Endler, veteran security professionals who previously worked together at iDefense and TippingPoint, are promising relief with Jumpshot, a start-up selling USB sticks with forensics software capable of resuscitating slugging computers with just a few mouse clicks.

The idea is to plug a USB stick into an ailing Windows machine and let the software run in the background to diagnose problems ranging from malware infections, crapware that hog system resources or Wi-Fi connectivity problems.

Once these problems are found, the software makes all the decisions for the end user, fixing the problems before sending a visual report on the health of the machine (see screenshot above).

"We adopted the 'grandma test' with the interface," Amini said in an interview. "You launch the app and we take care of the rest.  Jumpshot will do everything the family IT guy will do, make all the decisions for grandma and handle all the fixes silently in the background."

jumpshot_processAmini said the USB sticks -- available in 8GB and 32GB -- is fitted with a single file executable that requires no installation.  Once the USB is inserted in a Windows machine (old or new), Jumpshot writes a one-time modification to the windows bootloader to reboot into Jumpshot automatically.  

Jumpshot actually runs in a custom Linux environment that automatically takes Windows offline (Amini calls this "sedation") and launches a browser can at least surf the web during the forensic/clean-up process.  Jumpshot then connects to the cloud and downloads the engine code.

The engine then loads and automatically mounts and attaches itself to every hard drive on the PC that contains an installation of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8, Amini explained.

Amini said the goal is to provide an easy-as-pie interface to the end user while the Jumpshot engine is making all the sane decisions for the end user.  "The goal is to provide the same report the family IT guy would give to his grand-father. It's a high-level conversation that remove the techy-language from the process." 

"Once the app is loaded, you see a log-in screen.  You register for an account, log in and Jumpshot takes care of everything else.  We're doing the forensics off a sleeping image instead of finding from the runtime side of things."

Amini said Jumpshot is configured to do things like removing start-up items to make a PC run faster, find and disinfect malware, uninstall OEM "crapware" and all the little tweaks needed to fix a problematic computer.  "We'll disable JavaScript in Adobe PDF because that's a security concern.  We'll go do all that in the background to get the machine back to a usable state."

Amini is careful to note that Jumpshot isn't a replacement for anti-malware software. "We're not preventing the cancer but we can go in and do the surgery to remove the cancer once it's there.  If you start seeing those 'scareware' pop-ups or your Internet is really slow or you have the DNSChanger malware and you can't use your computer, that's where we think Jumpshot will be perfect."

In the future, Amini says the company is looking to add features to monitor and manage privacy settings on social networks and even patch security vulnerabilities for third-party applications on Windows (PDF, Java, Flash, etc.)

Amini and Endler is using Kickstarter to raise funds (mostly to manufacture the USB sticks) and in just two days, supporters helped raise the $25,000 target.

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