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Friday, November 24, 2006
Chip to Block Computer Viruses


A government-affiliated research institute in Japan says it has developed a chip that blocks viruses before they enter the computer, thus doing away with the need for conventional anti-virus software.

The chip would lead to higher processing speeds and could be used widely in networked appliances and cellphones.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) said its team of researchers developed the anti-virus system based on a Field Programmable Gate Array, a reconfigurable LSI chip, which enables users to rewrite programming in the chip.

The team, led by Eiichi Takahashi, a researcher at AIST's Advanced Semiconductor Research Center, aims to put the technology into practical use within five years.

Interconnecting a personal computer and the Internet, the device effectively protects the computer from viruses before they enter into the computer.

The new system will enhance security by checking viruses at the gate, as opposed to conventional anti-virus programs which are installed onto computers and consequently can check viruses only after they are already downloaded into the computer system.

Another advantage over anti-virus software is that the new system will not slow down computer operations because it works independently of the computer. Installed anti-virus software often slow down operations, such as Internet connection speed, while checking viruses.

The technology will enable protection of Internet-capable home appliances and cellphones, which are currently vulnerable to viruses because anti-virus software cannot be installed.

Shinichiro Kagaya, an expert on virus countermeasures at the Information-technology Security Center of the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan, said AIST's chip-based technology will probably be more useful for the security of Net-linked home appliances, such as DVD recorders, rather than on personal computers.

Takahashi said that he aims to lower the price to 10,000 yen or below, ensuring that the chip will be in the same price bracket as conventional anti-virus programs, by developing specialized LSI chips to cut costs.


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