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Palo Alto WildFire firewall upgrade closely inspects network traffic

WildFire technology designed to identify suspicious outgoing traffic from malware

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Palo Alto Networks is upgrading its firewall products with a capability to precisely identify outbound traffic generated by malware, which the company calls WilfFire and says will help if the malware is undetected at first and starts running on a computer.

WildFire will be distributed as a free upgrade for Palo Alto's firewall products. It is aimed at halting targeted attacks, where the malware is not widely distributed and designed to evade front-line detection methods.

Palo Alto's firewalls run suspicious-looking files in a virtualised sandbox and examine how the files behave. If a piece of malware does suspicious actions such as altering registry settings, injecting itself into processes or other bad behaviours, it will be blocked.

Malware tracked down

But if a piece of malware does escape that examination, eventually it will start sending traffic out of the computer, and that is what WildFire is designed to detect even if it is encrypted, said Wade Williamson, a senior security analyst for Palo Alto Networks.

WildFire examines the traffic, and if it is bad, will generate a signature to identify the traffic flow and stop it in the future. It may mean a machine may get infected one time with the malware, but the computer can be then be isolated and reimaged, Williamson said.

"The big issue is to make sure that you only let that infecting file by once," Williamson said.

Beta success

Palo Alto Networks firewalls were detecting strange outbound traffic before, "but we didn't have a good answer for what caused that to start happening," Williamson said.

In beta tests, WildFire picked up malware that hadn't been entered yet into VirusTotal, which allows people to see if malicious software is detected by a range of security vendors, Williamson said.

WildFire is part of Pan OS 4.1, the latest operating system upgrade for the company's firewalls. The company also released on Monday the PA-200, a physically smaller firewall. It also extended its access and application control software, GlobalProtect, for Apple's OSX and iOS operating systems.



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