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Network appliance maker Finjan released an updated version of its Internet security software on Nov. 27, claiming new capabilities for identifying and defeating Web-based IT threats.

Dubbed Vital Security Version 8.4, the software will be made available as a free download to all users of the company’s existing network security appliances, and promises to allow the devices to protect corporate networks from emerging blends of malicious code that may elude traditional signature-based applications.

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Such tools rely on lists of previously identified malware threats to help protect companies against viruses and other attacks. However, Finjan, based in San Jose, Calif., claims that its software’s onboard Web site behavior-monitoring and URL-blocking features allow it to filter out many malware programs that have yet to be discovered by researchers.

Among the functional upgrades in the new version of the package are tools for deciphering obfuscated code, or hackers’ attempts to hide their malicious programs within larger pieces of software. By looking for techniques commonly used by malware writers, the software can isolate areas of an application where an attack may be hidden and draw conclusions about the scope of the attack based on the information the hacker is trying to hide, Finjan officials said.

Another added feature is the software’s new traffic “sniffing” technology, which can be used by enterprises to test network activity without slowing down performance of their systems. One of the biggest hurdles to improving enterprise security today is the compromise most companies must make in balancing network-based malware testing and performance, said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at Finjan.

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“We’re hearing more over the last six months that large enterprises are pushing for wider deployment of these types of network security tools, pushing into the hundreds of thousands of users, but they can only do this if they see no impact on [the] end user experience,” Ben-Itzhak said. “Companies also need the ability to provide consistent security for large IT deployments distributed over wide geographies, and this appliance approach allows them to do that.”

In addition to code improvements that will allow Finjan appliances to run 30 percent faster than when using previous iterations of the software, company officials detailed a range of configuration and management features in Vital Security Version 8.4 they said would improve ease-of-use and installation of the devices. Another addition in the package is the software’s so-called X-Ray mode, which offers companies a chance to test new security settings on live traffic streams before pushing the security changes onto desktops.

In allowing companies greater flexibility for tailoring the software’s URL filtering controls, Finjan said it has also taken a step forward in empowering companies to allow workers to use a wider range of Web sites without putting their organizations at risk. The newest version of Vital Security Web Appliance promises to protect against a wide range of threats, including spyware, phishing attacks and Trojan viruses.

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