Minded Security launches 'agentless' bank security tool in UK

Italian startup turns Javascript expertise into server system

Italian newcomer Minded Security has launched in the UK with a pair of security tools it hopes will attract interest from a UK banking sector beset by worries over relentless malware attacks.

The firm's star product is its Agentless anti-Malware Technology (AMT) Banking Malware Detector, a cloud or appliance system designed to detect malware infection on customer PCs by analysing the Javascript interaction between user and server.

If transactions suspected of being initiated by malware are detected using a scoring system, fraud managers are alerted in real time.

Minded's research suggests that at any one time as many as 5 percent of devices used by bank customers are infected with malware, mostly adware and other nuisance software. Within this, 1.5 percent is more risky spyware with 0.5 percent the most dangerous banking malware.

CEO and founder Matteo Meucci, and cofounder and Citi Bank Europe senior vice president Marco Morana are coy about how their software actually detects the anomalous Javascript generated by keylogging, form grabbing and man-in-the-browser sessions but the small firm has a track record since 2007 as a security consultancy in this field and is keen to underline its experience in the sector.

The important claim is that this kind of modelling can spot unknown as well as known attacks because it is based on assessing interaction rather than monitoring the state of the PC itself as do some of its competitors (such as IBM's Trusteer in-browser tool).

Certainly, Minded's is an unusual approach to what is still a major problem for banks and customers alike. Putting plug-ins on the customer's PC is complex and requires the user to perform the download. Although the security delivered can be good an agentless approach has major attractions as long as it can match it for effectiveness.

"Banking malware is constantly evolving, and escalating in sophistication, typical authentication and monitoring tools simply don't stand up against these new threats," said Morana.

"The financial sector needs to deploy anti-malware technology that is effective at detecting and identifying the risks associated with both known, and unknown malware threats. Minded Security aims to help manage and mitigate these hard-to-find threats."

The firm is also pitching its Javascript security analysis tool, DOMinatorPro, that helps software testers track down DOM Based Cross Site Scripting issues.

"We know the market is full of competitors. But we understand that the customers are not really satisfied and are requesting new technologies," said Morana. "[Today's] technologies are failing to detect unknown strains of malware."

Morana said Minded had amassed 70 customers in Europe and beyond, mostly small and medium-sized banks. Time will tell if the cut-throat world of London and New York banking is ready for their bespoke message.

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