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5/10/2005
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Novell Acquires Immunix To Add A Security Layer To Linux

The software is designed to make applications running in Linux environments less likely to be hijacked by malware.

In a move to improve the security of applications running in Linux environments, Novell has acquired Immunix Inc. and its AppArmor software. Novell announced the deal Tuesday, but didn't disclose how much it paid for Immunix.

AppArmor is used to prevent applications operating in the Linux environment from being co-opted by viruses, worms, and other malware into doing things they shouldn't. Using application-containment technology, AppArmor keeps applications from "masquerading," or using ill-gotten permissions to do malicious things, says Ed Anderson, VP of product marketing for Novell's platform group.

That complements Novell's existing Linux security, Anderson says. Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 already has a Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level security certification of 4+, out of a possible 7, which reflects the operating system's access controls and password protections. AppArmor offers a layer of protection if those protections are compromised.

Novell is making AppArmor available with SuSE Enterprise Linux 9 and subsequent versions of the operating system. The company's YAST (Yet Another Setup Tool) management software is used to install and configure AppArmor, defining what an application is and isn't permitted to do.

Novell decided to acquire Immunex rather than partner with the company for its technology. "A lot of customers are wary about working with smaller companies that don't have the breadth of support," Anderson says. Novell wants to make AppArmor more mainstream by folding it into the company's larger suite of Linux offerings.

Immunix engineers were instrumental in developing the open-source Linux Security Modules project, a general-purpose framework for access control, and will continue to conduct Linux security research as Novell employees from their lab near Portland, Ore., Anderson says.

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