McAfee has announced a technology breakthrough that redefines how computers are protected against viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other malicious programs, dramatically increasing the level of computer security.

The technology, called McAfee Artemis Technology, uses a new Internet-based service hosted by McAfee Avert Labs to provide active protection on the fly when a computer gets hit by malicious computer code. Artemis is the industry's first technology to shield computer users against attacks as they happen without requiring a traditional, scheduled update of threat signatures to be installed on the machine.
"McAfee Avert Labs projects a true malware onslaught this year with 300 percent more malicious programs in 2008 compared to 2007," says Jayson O'Reilly, regional director: Africa (acting) at McAfee South Africa. "Clearly today's threat landscape requires a different approach to malware detection. Artemis is the first protection mechanism that works in Internet time, providing unprecedented protection."
Malware writers are becoming more sophisticated in their techniques. Financially motivated attacks have doubled with eight out of ten attacks designed to make cyber criminals money. Attacks primarily arrive via the Web or e-mail and the vast majority of today's malware is programmed to quietly steal a victim's sensitive information.
The FBI has estimated that the average cost to a business per attack is $1 200.00 for consumers and more than $350 000.00 for enterprises. Additionally, organisations face data loss, disruption to business, loss in productivity and non-compliance with regulatory requirements while consumers face the perils of identity fraud.
McAfee Artemis Technology provides an important new weapon in the fight against cyber crime, allowing McAfee's security products to provide protection from known and emerging threats. Traditionally malware detection has relied on databases with threat signatures on the user's computer. This approach requires that the threat
databases on each computer are updated with signatures for each new threat to provide the latest detection. As a result there is an inherent delay from when the threat is first identified to when protection is available at all computers.
"The traditional signature-based approach to detecting malware is no longer enough," continues O'Reilly. "While user behaviour has changed and the threat landscape has evolved, malware detection technology generally hasn't kept pace. McAfee's program represents a major shift in how the massive increase in malware should be dealt with. This approach returns the innovation initiative to the defence, one-upping malware writers."
Artemis is the first technology to virtually eliminate the protection gap by providing rapid reaction to threats for which signature files have yet to be released. When a suspicious file is detected on a computer protected by a McAfee product containing Artemis, the Artemis technology connects to McAfee servers in real time to determine whether the file is malicious or not. This check happens in seconds without any material impact on the user's experience.
The Artemis service in the cloud is unlike any previous system for classifying and identifying malicious software. It is powered by McAfee's Community Threat Intelligence, which includes security know-how from McAfee's researchers, threat honey pots and real-time input from tens of millions of systems protected by McAfee to make computer security on every computer protected by McAfee smarter and safer.
Key benefits of Artemis include:
* Reducing the protection gap from hours or days to mere seconds;
* Combining the best of blacklisting and whitelisting models;
* Dynamic, in the cloud service that offers protection in real time;
* Easy installation; and
* No cost to customers.
Artemis is available at no charge as part of McAfee Total Protection Service for small and medium-sized businesses and will be available this month for McAfee VirusScan Enterprise. Artemis is also available for McAfee's consumer products, where the functionality is called "Active Protection".