Kaspersky builds its own antimalware OS -- but not for you

The operating system is meant to protect industrial systems from cyberattack by preventing any third-party code from executing.

The folks at Kaspersky Lab are aiming to create their own secure operating system, but this one would run on industrial systems rather than your average home PC.

In blog posted today, company CEO Eugene Kaspersky confirmed the rumors of a new OS, describing the background behind the effort and hinting at the development process.

Cyberattacks present a growing and challenging problem for industries maintaining systems that must be powered on all the time. If a virus affects a computer at most companies, that computer can be unplugged from the network so as not to infect other devices, Kaspersky said. But industrial control systems (ICS) hit by malware can't be brought down since they're usually managing critical operations or infrastructure that can't be taken offline.

Companies that maintain ICS are forced to try to patch them on the fly in the event of a malware attack, a process usually easier said than done.

Instead, Kaspersky suggests that the solution lies in a secure operating system, one in which ICS can be installed. Such an OS could help ensure that industrial systems stay healthy and that the data generated is reliable.

But how would such an OS provide the necessary security if Microsoft, Apple, and others can't secure their own operating systems, asks Kaspersky.

That type of security is possible specifically because the OS would be geared toward industrial systems and not traditional PCs.

"First, our system is highly tailored, developed for solving a specific narrow task, and not intended for playing Half-Life on, editing your vacation videos, or blathering on social media," Kaspersky explained.

Next, the operating system would stop any unauthorized code or applications from the get-go.

"This is the important bit: the impossibility of executing third-party code, or of breaking into the system or running unauthorized applications on our OS," Kaspersky added, "and this is both provable and testable."

Though Kaspersky feels the OS is doable, he did refer to its development as a "sophisticated project" since it requires working with industrial companies. And since the project is just getting off the ground, he declined to reveal any specific information at this point. But certain details about the secure OS are described in a document about its development.

With cyberattacks on the rise and industrial systems increasingly vulnerable, Kaspersky's approach seems like a viable solution. We'll just have to see if the company can pull it off.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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