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Viruses kept inside DERA servers

Government research agency Dera has launched a new virus solution, which aims to keep viruses in, rather than keeping them out.
Written by Ben King, Contributor

Government research agency Dera has launched a new virus solution, which aims to keep viruses in, rather than keeping them out.

Catchily named ::Mail, the program aims to control the spread of email viruses like Melissa and the Love Bug, which have travelled rapidly around the world through email programmes. The viruses work by sending copies of themselves to all the names in a user's address book, without the user knowing - until it's too late. Dera's solution works by asking the user to confirm every email they send. So if they find their computer is unexpectedly trying to send a picture of Anna Kournikova to everyone they know, they can be pretty sure it is a virus and cancel the command. Their own computer remains infected, but the virus is prevented from spreading any further - minimising damage to the rest of the organisation and business partners. Other virus vendors poured scorn on the new offering. Mark Sunner, CTO at MessageLabs, said: "This new Dera software seems targeted at last year's viruses, rather than the current crop of new viruses. Whereas this could have stopped the Love Bug, or even the Kournikova virus, the new breed of viruses already contains technology that bypasses this simple defence, for instance the second most common virus in the world this month: W32/Magistr-mm." Dera has also announced a series of other ebusiness security projects, including a secure firewall toolkit called Swipsy, at the Infosec security show in London's Olympia. The move is part of the government's programme to privatise most of Dera, announced last year. In June, three quarters of the agency will be spun off into a government-owned plc company, to be called QinetiQ (pronounced kinetic), prior to an eventual flotation. Dera, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, is credited with several pioneering inventions, including liquid crystal displays, carbon fibre and flat-panel speakers.
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