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While the concept is just emerging, Symantec is not the first to develop a technology around it. For example, two small companies–New York City-based Application Security and Acton, MA-based Lumigent–also make software that uses learning techniques to identify attacks and other unusual activity.

Symantec’s solution, known as Symantec Database Security, is the first product to come out of its Advanced Concepts Group within the research labs. The group develops more speculative technologies, by behaving like a startup company getting off the ground by making a custom product for a handful of customers.

“The challenge for any large company is to build an entirely new product and bring it to market,” says Steve Trilling, vice president of research & advanced development at Symantec. “When you are shipping to millions of customers, there is an expectation that we will ship on 10 platforms, in 10 languages, with lots of documentation and a sales and marketing program. So I think there was some value in building something from the ground up using a different model.”

Identity theft is a big problem. In the first eight months of 2006, more than 116 data breaches were reported that put more than 65 million records at risk, the company says.

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