Anti-spyware tech gets mobilized

A new offering from a Victoria-based anti-spyware firm could help companies deal with the growing problem of employees compromising corporate data through their use of portable memory sticks.

ParetoLogic Inc. has developed a USB device called XOFTspy portable anti-spyware that, when plugged into a USB port, automatically checks for and removes spyware and other malware from the drive.

Slaven Radic, XOFTspy portable project consultant with ParetoLogic, said that memory stick use has become a security pain for many enterprises. Employees often use these devices for file storage so that they can work remotely. This practice, however, runs the risk of the USB stick becoming a virus carrier that can eventually infect the corporate network.

“Many organizations don’t have control over these physical devices….That is the reason why we have something like this to protect these little portable drives that are magnets for malware as people move about,” he said.

The USB key with the XOFTspy software can be used for file storage, so it can be a good alternative to the regular portable memory stick, explained Elton Pereira, CFO and co-founder of ParetoLogic.

Radic added that when the XOFTspy key is plugged into a USB port, it scans the PC and reads its registry, files and processes. As well, the device can detect keystroke loggers and disarm them. XOFTspy portable also removes any files used to run malware and deletes them from the registry. Any malware removal done while the USB stick is hooked up is permanent.

Another benefit, said Radic, is that the XOFTspy gives IT managers the ability to clean as many PCs as they want without having to worry about network availability. “[With anti-spyware on a] USB stick, you can clean as many PCs as you want without having to install applications or download stuff,” Radic said.

The cost of the software is US$14.95 per license. However, users would have to pay extra for the cost of a U3-compatible USB flash drive to which the software can be downloaded. One Canadian analyst is doubtful about the benefits that portable anti-spyware can bring to the enterprise, particularly IT managers.

James Quin, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research, questioned the advantages of having a portable anti-spyware device that would involve an IT manager manually going from PC to PC to do a cleanup.

“For [IT staff in] large organizations…this kind of task is going to be way too much of a pain,” said Quin.

The analyst said organizations are typically looking for a centrally managed security solution rather than having users do the scanning themselves.

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