HP unleashes a worm to find and fix server holes


HP unleashes a worm to find and fix server holes

Cliff Saran

Technology developed by HP Labs that uses virus propogation techniques to patch vulnerable servers is to be offered as a service.

Created by Hewlett-Packard researchers in response to the Code Red attack, HP Active Countermeasures (HPac) is a security service designed to identify and mitigate critical security vulnerabilities.

It has been used inside HP since 2001 to protect the company's own infrastructure.

HP said the service was not intended to replace an organisation's existing IT security provisions, but was designed to provide additional capability to detect and repair vulnerable systems in advance of an attack.

A number of European and US businesses have piloted the service, which is due to be available by the end of October, said HP.

HP researcher Boris Balacheff said the technology was designed to remediate security vulnerabilities proactively where the IT director had decided it was too risky to wait for the normal patch management process to complete.

The service focuses on security infrastructures that allow some viruses and worms through the normal defences provided by antivirus, intrusion prevention/detection, patch management and vulnerability assessment tools.

HP said the service had been designed to complement these tools and give IT security administrators the ability to take immediate action to find and patch systems which otherwise left the whole infrastructure open to attack.

Balacheff said, "The approach HP has taken is a corporate immune system. We take advantage of the same vulnerability as the worm and make sure that if we find a vulnerable system, we break in and close the vulnerability. If a worm can break into the system, we can too."

Businesses with fewer than 20,000 active IP addresses will be offered the service at a fixed price, which HP said would be "extremely competitive".

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