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Issue of November 2006 
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“Our Indian R&D centre is our largest lab worldwide”

Anil Chakravarthy, Vice-president, India Technical Operations, Symantec India, spoke to Dominic K about the innovative work underway at the company's R&D lab in India.


Anil
Chakravarthy

Dynamic Multi Pathing (DMP) is a technology developed out of the R&D lab at Pune. What is the concept behind this technology?

Our Indian R&D centre is our largest lab worldwide. DMP, a tool developed at the Pune Lab, helps administrators by providing alerts for path failure and recovery. In the old days the administrator had to set a static path to access data. When this path got bottle-necked, the administrator had to manually reconfigure another path. All of this was based on trial and error.

Through DMP we have achieved the same dynamically within the data centre. Depending on the performance of the server as to how fast data is being retrieved, our software will automatically reconfigure the path that should be taken. In case the path fails due to a hardware connection error, it will automatically reconfigure the path. DMP can also provide greater I/O throughput by balancing the I/O load uniformly across multiple I/O paths to disc storage.

Every OS and application has certain vulnerabilities. How do Symantec’s solutions address this?

People tend to trivialise anti-virus and use it as a sort of vaccination for data protection. A virus or worm is a piece of code that exploits a vulnerability that could be anywhere in an OS, database, application or network. I feel that virus is more a catch-all term. For the piece of code, it is all about exploiting vulnerabilities. Symantec is conducting research on each of the above mentioned areas to block vulnerabilities.

For example, Internet Explorer has a lot of application-level vulnerabilities such as pictures not being scanned for malware. Scanning is limited to text but not to pictures. Hence, malware gets injected into pictures. Another example of application-level vulnerability is buffer overflow. Symantec does not distinguish between the level of vulnerability simply because vulnerability keeps disguising itself.

Products and solutions are available to tackle viruses, spam, worms and trojans as well as botnets and rootkits. How does Symantec tackle the same?

At the OS level, rootkits are the threat, and they are not easy to develop or destroy for that matter. It can be in the form of a virus. Then there are blended threats which combine the characteristics of trojan horses, worms, viruses and various types of malicious code within themselves to attack server and Internet vulnerabilities.

In terms of R&D we were one of the first to ship an integrated solution against viruses, spyware, rootkits and phishing. This solution offers a personal firewall apart from integrating security.

Symantec tied up with Juniper to offer security in network devices. Is this a move to expand the market that you address to offer enterprise solutions in network technology as well? Is the Pune lab contributing on this front?

We have realised that network-level security must be provided through custom hardware and customised chips (ASIC), otherwise network traffic will slow down. Today, traffic moves at gigabit speed. At this speed, the network hardware devices need to detect or allow a packet in real-time, not slow down the system to inspect some data packets in the stream.

We are not into manufacturing or fabricating security boxes, hence we decided to collaborate with Juniper to offer our security solution software in Juniper’s network devices. Our software module can be inserted as a blade module.

 
     
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