Dell leverages artificial intelligence to protect PCs from malware

Dell endpoint security suite will work on Dell Latitude laptops

Dell will offer a one-stop solution for security for users of its business PCs by partnering with Irvine, California-based Cylance. OptiPlex and Latitude users will be able to purchase a comprehensive endpoint security solution that includes data protection and protection against malware starting in 2016 through the Dell Data Protection suite.

"Our partnership with Cylance addresses the single biggest pain point for customers," said Brett Hansen, Executive Director Marketing End User Computing Software and Mobility Solutions at Dell, in an interview with techradar pro. "Customers want a single solution that meets all their security needs delivered by one vendor."

This solution allows Dell "to offer a truly, integrated secure device that includes our rich hardware capabilities and our solution of data encryption, threat protection and data encryption on top of that," Hansen said.

What makes a good security solution

Historically, customers use signature-based detection, and this methodology is delivered by leading anti-virus providers like McAfee, Kaspersky, Trend Micro and Symantec. However, these solutions are not effective against today's threats, Hansen said, noting that the big data breaches, like the ones that affected Target and JPMorgan, all originate from a compromised device.

Dell outlined three criteria for an effective malware protection solution. First, it must be a local-based agent. Users aren't always connected to the internet to pull updates. A growing mobile workforce means that people are connecting to open hotspots, which puts them at greater risk to Wi-Fi-based attacks.

Second, there needs to be a high degree of accuracy. Traditional signature-based protection will always be a step behind because it relies on known viruses. And lastly, Dell wants to focus on prevention instead of detection and remediate.

"I've heard from dozens and dozens of customers, especially in the mid-market and SMB space, who are spending a disproportionate amount of their IT resources remediating compromised devices," Hansen said.

For SMBs, prevention on endpoint devices means that data is safe and time isn't wasted on detection and removing viruses. Business users don't have to worry about their financial data being compromised or losing an important PowerPoint presentation if their devices are secured.

Using artificial intelligence to detect and prevent

Cylance Protect fits Dell's requirements because it doesn't use signatures. Cylance works off of artificial intelligence, with the company claiming that it has trained the software to think like a security expert.

"The software takes a look at everything on a computer system before it runs to determine if it's malicious," said Stuart McClure, CEO of Cylance, in an interview with techradar pro. "By doing this, Cylance prevents attacks, both known and unknown in real-time, within 20ms depending on the file."

This algorithmic approach means that Cylance is signature-less and doesn't require any updates. Cylance is based on artificial intelligence and mathematics, an approach that's radically different from today's competing solutions. McClure claims that Cylance can effectively "not be updated for years and years" and still work.

The catch-22 with current solutions, McClure explained, is that for competing solutions to work, they need to be constantly updated. However, when users connect to hotspots at coffee shops and hotels, attackers can exploit the endgate vulnerability of Wi-Fi connections to compromise the endpoint with malware.

"You can't rely on the cloud for your protection," McClure said. "It's too slow. It's reactive. And they're all signature-based."

Dell will integrate Cylance into its security suite, citing research claiming that two out of three customers prefer an integrated suite rather than "cobbling independent offerings together." The value is that this is a more streamlined management experience, taking the administration burden off of IT, Hansen said.

The integrated suite will arrive in mid- to late-January 2016 as part of its software volume license agreements, as a solutions sale or as part of Dell clients. Pricing for how much extra Cylance will add to the cost of Dell Data Protection suite was not immediately available.