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Intelligent Machines

Worm Guards

Determina’s software provides maintenance-free protection against computer worms.

It’s becoming almost commonplace these days. Computer users and IT managers fend off a worm attack, then spend countless hours and dollars cleaning up the damage and downloading patches for future protection. Amid the growing number of attacks, Determina, an MIT spinoff based in Redwood City, CA, has stepped into the fray with software it says will better protect computers against worms while requiring minimum maintenance.

Determina’s product, SecureCore, runs on servers (a desktop version is in planning) to guard against worms, which have become the most common method of attacking computers. Worms are malicious programs that rapidly and automatically spread via networks, including the Internet. They enter a computer posing as normal data, trick it into running their code, take control of the computer’s programs, and move on to the next computer. Protection against worms-particularly new ones-is tricky, and existing antiworm software typically requires ongoing maintenance. Determina’s software, on the other hand, demands no work from the user beyond its initial installation, so it can be deployed on computers across an entire enterprise instead of on just a few key servers, says Nand Mulchandani, Determina’s CEO.

The company released its software at the end of February and by April had raised $16 million in second-round venture financing. Since its founding last May, Determina has changed its name from Araksha and signed on two customers: an unnamed federal agency and Thermo Electron, a Waltham, MA-based manufacturer of lab equipment. Determina is pursuing other government agencies as customers, as well as telecom and financial companies, where security is a high priority.

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