Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

In addition to employing several antivirus services in parallel, Cloud AV makes use of information received from multiple users. Whereas ordinary antivirus software simply looks at the files and activity on one machine, Cloud AV can compare the files on thousands of machines. Catching a virus on one system automatically protects any other machine connected to Cloud AV from the same threat.

“We’re able to do something that’s impossible to do when you run antivirus software only on your desktop,” says Jahanian. This network effect also helps keep bandwidth requirements low because once Cloud AV has analyzed one particular spreadsheet, it doesn’t need to scan the entire file again when it arrives on someone else’s computer.

“Sometimes the best ideas are simple ideas,” says Wenke Lee, a professor at the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Lee adds that the research provides a realistic scenario. “A lot of papers are written using synthetic data or small-scale network traffic, but this work is an actual demonstration of the system’s capabilities,” he says.

Although other companies offer server-side antivirus services, these only use one detection system and can only analyze files being sent across the network. Google provides a similar scanning service, called Google Message Security, for companies that use its Web-based applications. “We very much agree that putting these types of solutions in the cloud makes a lot of sense, given the way that they evolve, morph, and mutate,” says Adam Swidler, head of Google applications security.

But it’s still unclear whether a network-based solution like Cloud AV could be deployed very widely. “If you start putting billions of messages through this process, some questions of scalability arise,” says Swidler.

Another issue is privacy, since such a system logs every file that comes in and out of a computer. This is one more question that has yet to be answered. “When you talk about cloud-computer and data security, you’ve got to be sure, based on the terms of service, that the data is going to be provided to the customer [when he or she wants it] and made secure,” says Swidler.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Credit: Technology Review

Tagged: Computing, Web, cloud computing, anti-virus software, network security

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »