Last October, Trend Micro introduced its new XGen security approach, an evolution of its traditional technologies which brought the machine learning they had been using in their Smart Protection Network down to the endpoint. At that time, it was only available in their OfficeScan enterprise offering. Now it has been extended to their small business-focused Worry-Free Services.
XGen is an important strategic concept for Trend Micro in positioning their offerings against next-gen vendors who are based on machine learning.
“We had increasingly been lumped into the ‘traditional AV’ category, who just relyied on signatures, and were considered somewhat old-fashioned and stodgy,” said Ryan Delany, Trend Micro’s Global Product Marketing Manager. “We had actually been a market leader in machine learning, and have been using it in our Smart Protection Network for ten years. We just hadn’t done a good job convincing the market of that.”
The Xgen name is a deliberate play on next-gen, to contrast the broader nature of Trend’s offerings against next-gen vendors.
“Next-gen providers rely on machine learning and pitch it as a silver bullet,” Delany said. “Xgen’s philosophy is to go past that, and provide a much more comprehensive set of protection techniques. We’ve taken the machine learning technology from the Smart Protection Network, and have now also brought it down to the endpoint for the first time. That’s a reaction to the much greater sophistication of threats today, and allows us to do much more customized scanning for each customer at the endpoint.”
The machine learning is only one of a multi-faceted array of protections.
“We have a multitude of ways to protect you,” Delany said. “Signature based scanning is often seen as archaic, but it’s efficient from a resource perspective. Signature scanning, content filtering and URL filtering let us determine if many things are either clearly good or clearly bad, so that there’s no need to leverage machine learning on them. Once the filtering is done, we use machine learning, which is more expensive as a resource, on the threats which are still unknown. That way the higher cost protection doesn’t have to scan as many files. Xgen applies the right protection technique at the right time for maximum protection at minimum cost.”
Today’s news is that the Xgen technology is now present on the Worry-Free service. It was actually implemented on the weekend, so that current customers are already receiving it.
“Xgen brings machine learning to Worry-Free, as well as application control, and encryption management,” Delany said. “Adding these brings Worry-Free up to date with all of our latest protection techniques.”
This won’t make the product drastically more effective, because the legacy product was already highly effective.
“Xgen in Worry-Free is brand new, so hasn’t been subject to third-party testing, but it has been tested on OfficeScan, and the third party testing there shows a slight and incremental improvement,” Delany said. “It’s the same engine, so we can expect a similar result. With so many threats today, even a .1 per cent improvement can be significant when dealing with things like ransomware.”
Delany said that the new Worry-Free is also a very big deal for Trend’s partners because it gives them a counter against the next-gen providers.
“There has been a lot of excitement about this in our partner community, because there has been so much noise over next-gen,” he said. “I think it will help partners position Trend effectively against machine learning-based solutions. Customers today are more aware of machine learning. This also will help separate ourselves from our traditional competitors, and give partners something new to talk about with customers.”