Startup Toughens Software Applications To Foil Pirates

V.I. Laboratories, a Waltham, Mass.-based startup that launched in 2001, recently emerged from stealth mode with a technology that uses cryptography and runtime monitoring to build a hardened layer of security around applications, making them impervious to tampering and thwarting the efforts of software pirates.

Unlike existing application security technologies, V.I. Laboratories' flagship CodeArmor solution bolsters the security of applications in a way that doesn't affect the source code or design process, said Joe Noonan, president and CEO of V.I. Laboratories. "Companies can take their applications and run them through our engine as a final test before marketing or releasing the product, which allows them to add security as they continue to develop and release software," he said.

In addition to protecting application algorithms with encryption, CodeArmor includes an embedded secure monitoring feature that acts as an intrusion prevention system to block attempts to debug or reverse-engineer code, Noonan said. "There's an element of digital rights management in CodeArmor, so the application is self-protected."

Bill O'Brien, principal at Commercium Technology, a Rumson, N.J.-based solution provider, said CodeArmor's unique security monitoring technology fills an important gap in the application security market.

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CodeArmor's ability to monitor and secure code in the execution phase means that code execution can only take place with the appropriate cryptographic keys, O'Brien added. "It's a different approach to securing applications, and it fits well into my security portfolio," he said.

V.I. Laboratories' initial target market will be application development firms in the computer aided drafting (CAD) space that develop high value applications and have global deployment, making them an attractive target for software pirates, Noonan said. V.I. plans to build a channel program around CodeArmor that leverages Dr. David Pensak's industry experience as well as that of third-party security consultants, he said.

V.I. Laboratories, which recently closed an initial round of funding led by Rockford Capital, was founded by Pensak, who developed the Raptor Firewall product now owned by Symantec.