NovaShield has developed a program to fight malicious software, or malware, which surreptitiously wreaks havoc on computers by deleting personal information or opening backdoors into the system. Most computer anti-viruses root out harmful viruses and spyware by tracking patterns, but NovaShield's technology is designed to spot certain suspicious communications between software and the operating system. It is also aimed at catching the more sophisticated programs emerging today, such as keyloggers. With NovaShield, a red flag would be raised if a program received an outside command and then the computer started sending spam out. "It's like listening to the conversation the program is having with the Windows operating system," says company co-founder Somesh Jha.
The startup, which launched in 2006, grew from Jha's work at the University of Wisconsin, where he teaches in the computer-science department. Initially working with angel investment, NovaShield secured its first $150,000 SBIR grant in 2007, followed by its most recent award. The money expanded research on combating bots that remotely commandeer computers to send out spam. NovaShield recently released a free trial version of its software to solicit comments, and it will begin sales in two month. - Herman Wong
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