Hp bromium: enhancing endpoint security with micro-virtualization

Hewlett Packard (HP) is a renowned technology company known for its innovative solutions in the field of computing. In September 2019, HP made a significant move by acquiring Bromium, a startup based in Cupertino, California. Bromium specializes in virtualization technology and focuses on reducing or eliminating endpoint computer threats such as viruses, malware, and adware. This acquisition strengthens HP's position in the cybersecurity market and enhances its ability to provide advanced security solutions to its customers.

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A Brief History of Bromium

Bromium was founded in 2010 by Gaurav Banga, along with former Citrix and XenSource executives Simon Crosby and Ian Pratt. The company quickly gained recognition and raised a total of $77 million in three rounds of venture funding. Prominent venture firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners supported Bromium's growth.

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In September 2012, Bromium shipped its first product, vSentry 0, which received positive feedback from early clients like the New York Stock Exchange and ADP. The company continued to innovate and published information in February 2014 about bypassing key defenses in Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET). This demonstrated Bromium's deep understanding of security vulnerabilities and its commitment to addressing them.

In February 2017, HP and Bromium announced a partnership to build and ship laptops with micro-virtualization technology built-in, starting with the HP EliteBook x360. This collaboration showcased the shared vision of both companies to provide advanced security features to users.

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Finally, in September 2019, HP acquired Bromium for an undisclosed sum, further solidifying its commitment to delivering cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions.

The Technology behind Bromium: Micro-virtualization

Bromium's flagship technology is called micro-virtualization, which offers a unique approach to protecting computers from malicious code execution. It focuses on safeguarding against threats initiated by end users, such as clicking on rogue web links, opening email attachments, or downloading files.

Micro-virtualization relies on hardware isolation to provide robust protection. It utilizes a late-load hypervisor called a Microvisor, which is based on the open-source Xen hypervisor. The Microvisor creates specialized virtual machines called micro-VMs that are tailored to specific tasks.

When a user opens a new application, clicks on a link, or downloads an attachment, the Microvisor creates a micro-VM dedicated to that task. This micro-VM only has access to the resources required to execute the specific task, minimizing the risk of malware spreading to the host environment. Each process runs in its own micro-VM, which is disposed of when the process stops, effectively eliminating any malware along with it.

The Microvisor enforces the principle of least privilege by isolating all applications and operating system functions within a micro-VM, preventing them from interacting with other micro-VMs, the protected desktop system, or the network it is connected to. This isolation ensures that even if one micro-VM is compromised, it cannot affect the overall system.

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The architecture of micro-virtualization relies on x86 virtualization to execute task-specific mandatory access control (MAC) policies whenever a micro-VM attempts to access key Windows services. This ensures that trusted and untrusted tasks can coexist on a single system while maintaining mutual isolation.

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Furthermore, the Microvisor's attack surface is extremely narrow, making it prohibitively expensive for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. NSS Labs conducted penetration testing of the Bromium architecture and reported that it achieved a perfect score in defeating all malware and expert human attempts at penetration.

Product Offerings: HP SureClick

Under HP's ownership, Bromium's flagship product, vSentry, has been rebranded as HP SureClick. This product is designed to provide enhanced endpoint security by leveraging micro-virtualization technology.

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HP SureClick offers protection for Windows 7 and requires an Intel processor with VT-x and EPT. It provides advanced features such as document exchange protection and behavioral analysis of executable code. These features ensure that users are protected from various attack vectors, including malicious documents and zero-day exploits.

The acquisition of Bromium by HP has strengthened the company's position in the cybersecurity market. With Bromium's micro-virtualization technology and HP's expertise in computing, HP SureClick offers a robust solution for enhancing endpoint security. The unique approach of micro-virtualization provides a strong defense against malware and other threats, ensuring the safety of user data and systems.

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