Start-up takes on threat detection and intelligence-sharing for the enterprise

Start-up Confer recently debuted with software and services aimed at detecting stealthy malware and attackers targeting enterprise servers, laptops and mobile devices. Though market competition is fierce, Confer believes it can win through its application behavior-analysis approach and its cloud-managed threat-intelligence platform that makes use of the open protocol called STIX.

Waltham, Mass.-based Confer has built what it calls its cyberthreat prevention network for sharing attack data based on the open protocol created by Mitre called "Structured Threat Information Expression". STIX allows for threat analysis and information sharing, and it is being championed in particular by the federal government and the financial services industry.

+More on Network World: Large organizations needs open security threat-intelligence sharing standards | The Worst Data Breach Incidents of 2013 +

Confer's two basic elements include lightweight software for Windows, Macintosh and Android devices that work to analyze the behavior of applications and processes to watch for malicious intentions. If the Confer "sensor" agent software detects sufficient risk, it can "terminate that process, or quarantine the application to the device," says Paul Morville, vice president of products. "We do a good job of characterizing what's on the endpoint -- was the attack successful -- and what it did."

Morville says Confer's approach in sharing threat information that's collected is somewhat similar to that from another start-up, CrowdStrike.

Confer's products are expected to be generally available in the second quarter.

Morville is one of the three co-founders of Confer, the two others being CTO Jeff Kraemer and CEO Mark Quinlivan. The start-up, founded in 2013, has received $8 million in venture capital funding from Matrix Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

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