Startup Avirtek combats hackers by scanning your cyber-DNA

Every time you use a computer, you leave behind a record of what you do, what programs you use and plenty of personal information. Tucson-based startup Avirtek wants to harness those digital fingerprints to help protect you. They call it user cyber-DNA.
The company, born in a University of Arizona laboratory, offers software solutions to cyber-security issues and bundles them with a variety of hardware appliances. The goal of these appliances is to replace and integrate several separate parts of the the network landscape, including routers, storage servers, firewalls and anti-virus protection among others.

But the most exciting part of the product is the software behind the scenes.
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The software establishes a “green zone” of internal policies and user behaviors that define what the user is allowed to do on the computer. The software constantly monitors the system to detect any activity outside of the “green zone.”
If the user does something out of the ordinary, the system asks three of several pre-determined security questions. If those questions are answered incorrectly, the system shuts down. You might want the answers to these questions to be something other than your mother’s maiden name.
That tracking forms what Avirtek calls user cyber-DNA, which describes the normal use patterns of specific users. The program uses that to identify individuals and determine part of the green zone.
Salim Hariri, University of Arizona professor and Avirtek founder, said the idea of user cyber-DNA is one of most innovative aspects of the company’s approach to security.
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“I can’t protect something that I don’t know it functions or how it operates,” he said. “We decided, why don’t we look at the users: how they type and use the mouse, how many browsers they have open and how much memory they use.”
But in a world where we’re being tracked constantly, how is this information being kept safe?
Hariri said the data the software tracks is purely statistical and is always encrypted. It can track the fact that you type 1,000 words in an average work day, but it can’t track the content of those words.
And while Hariri said the government has been the most interested customer so far, he is excited to expand the scope of Avirtek to include corporations and average consumers and begin marketing the product.
Will the use of our own cyber-fingerprints keep us safe? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
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