Microsoft wants to kill off Linux malware for good

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Microsoft has unveiled a new threat detection service that it hopes can greatly improve security protection on Linux systems.

Project Freta is a free cloud-based tool that is able to detect new forms of malware and other malicious software such as rootkits and cryptominers that Microsoft says could have previously gone undetected in Linux systems.

The company notes that such threats can often be found lurking in Linux cloud VM images, putting users of the open-source platform at risk.

Linux security

Microsoft says that Project Freta offers a whole new way of detecting malware threats, going beyond existing methods that rely on sensors to predict the presence of something untoward.

Such methods can often be swerved or bypassed entirely by malware authors, meaning a new approach was needed. Project Freta is able to analyse virtual machines (VMs) in order to learn about new environments and how they are affected by malware, before using this knowledge to spot emerging threats.

Microsoft says Project Freta automatically analyses images of thousands of Linux cloud VMs in order to detect new forms of malware and sensor corruption, and supports over 4,000 kernel versions at launch. 

This makes it incredibly resilient, meaning malware authors would have to invest heavily in developing new threats that can get around the new scanning technology. Project Freta users, who will need a Microsoft account to access the service, can also submit a captured image to generate a report of its content, helping boost the initiative's reach and expertise.

"We often think about the field of computer security as a field of walls and barriers that keep intruders out," Mike Walker, Microsoft Senior Director, New Security Ventures wrote in a blog post announcing the launch.

"With Project Freta, we invite readers to think not of walls but of sunlight...Project Freta is a roadmap toward trusted sensing for the cloud that can allow enterprises to engage in regular, complete discovery sweeps for undetected malware."

Initially only available for Linux systems, Microsoft says it plans to add Windows support for Project Freta soon, as well as AI technology that can boost decision-making potential.

"We hope that Project Freta empowers administrators and responders and is used globally as it has been used at Microsoft: to hunt advanced intruders and their toolkits," Walker concluded.

Via BleepingComputer

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.