Trend Micro Releases New 'Smart Protection Network'

That was the idea behind Trend Micro's newly announced "in the cloud" Smart Protection Network, which the company officially launched Wednesday.

"We are very excited to announce this Smart Protection Network," said Eva Chen, Trend Micro co-founder and CEO during a press conference. "The technology strategy of the Smart Powered Network is going to power our solutions in the future."

For Trend Micro, the announcement represents the next stage of the company's multi-layered strategy to combat sophisticated Web attacks elicited by underground cybercrime networks for the growing number of businesses that are increasingly reliant upon the Internet. The new solution uses a combination of in-the-cloud technologies with other client-based techniques, which are leveraged as both on-premise products as well as hosted services.

And with 5.5 million pieces of unique malware discovered last year, the solution couldn't come at a better time, execs say.

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"Trend Micro has been in the security threat management industry for 20 years. In the past three years, we've seen dramatic change," said Chen. "This dramatic increase of malware has changed the whole threat landscape."

The new cloud-based network is somewhat of a departure Trend Micro, which has up until recently primarily offered an array of end-point solutions in its portfolio. And partners say that the comprehensive solution adds a breadth and depth of Web security that allows them to expand the range of their own offerings.

"The entire protection network strategy allows end user resellers to leverage a very established correlation base of threats that are known and threat that are evolving," said Jeffry Brown, director of business development for Network System Architects. "It's not looking at signatures as your primary defense mechanism, but looking at exploits as a combined threat that surface from a number of different sources."

"For a partner, it gives them more tools to bring to their customer base to fend off these existing threats," Brown added.

Those new tools include a lot of layers. The new solution provides a multi-faceted answer to multi-faceted Web threats that can no longer be addressed by scan-based technologies alone. In fact, the blended solution aims directly to reduce dependency on conventional pattern file downloads on the endpoint, executives say.

Specifically, the Smart Protection Network tracks credibility and correlates Web, e-mail and file threat data by using reputation technologies that compares threats against in-the-cloud threat databases. The Web domains are assigned a reputation score based on a Website's age, historical location changes and indications of malware or suspicious activities, while the e-mail component validates IP addresses in real time against a reputation database of known spam sources. Malicious e-mails are blocked in the cloud based on the sender's IP address.

The solution also enfolds correlation and behavior analysis technologies, which correlate different combinations of activities to determine if they come from a malicious source, thus helping users to avoid being redirected to malicious, "information stealing" Websites, even if the link or URL appears to be from a legitimate source.

An additional layer provides feedback loops that create what the company calls a "Neighborhood Watch" system of protection that provides continuous communication between Trend Micro's products and threat research centers. The communication stream allows automatic updates to Trend Micro's threat databases around the world every time a new threat is identified.

Other partners, however, expressed that many of their customers from all market segments might be more unwilling to adopt sophisticated Web protection technologies due to lack of awareness regarding new and emerging threats -- threats that can compromise their entire network through something as simple as a visiting a legitimate Web page infected with malicious code.

Yet despite some doubt that customers will be quick to embrace the new Web solutions right off the bat, partners also say that in light of a slowing economy, more and more enterprises and SMBs will embrace solutions that come as managed service or "in-the-cloud" models.

"Increasingly, we see the value of a hybrid solutions that vendors are going to need to provide to defray costs," said Brown. "The managed service model will increasingly make sense for business large and small, as technicians with these organizations don't change the time or the bandwidth to devote to these quickly changing issues."

The company also expects to integrate its new cloud-client file reputation into its consumer, SMB and enterprise endpoint solution products down the road.