VMRay is a young and successful IT company from the heart of the Ruhr that develops innovative security solutions to identify and ward off cyberattacks. Its unique hypervisor technology goes beyond protection against conventional malware, with the ability to detect and intercept complex viruses and targeted attacks.
VMRay was established as a spin-off of the Ruhr University of Bochum by Carsten Willems and Ralf Hund in late 2013. For their doctor thesis at the Horst Görtz Institute they developed a novel technology to analyse the behaviour of malware that involves taking unknown files from the internet (such as downloads or email attachments) before they are delivered to the recipient, and investigating them in a so-called malware sandbox. This controlled “detonation” in a contained sandbox environment allows them to observe the file’s behaviour and extract useful information without causing any damage. Only if no suspicious or malicious behaviour is detected are the files forwarded to the user.
Unlike classic anti-virus protection, this behaviour-based analysis is able not only to ward off known malware, but also to detect new threats with as yet unknown identification signatures. Unlike its competitors, VMRay’s hypervisor technology allows the file to be investigated from outside the sandbox, so that the analysis procedure remains invisible to the suspicious file. As a result the file cannot take any countermeasures, like carrying out harmless operations, to conceal its malicious intentions. The procedure is therefore especially effective against new and complex targeted violations where the attacker will generally use every available means to identify and circumvent security solutions.
The majority of customers are major corporations, operators of critical infrastructures, government agencies and law enforcement authorities. Reputable OEM partners also deploy VMRays technology, which is easy and inexpensive to integrate in their own security products. Firewall manufacturer SonicWall (formerly DELL), for example, today supplies gapless protection to more than a million customers worldwide against dangerous new threats.
VMRay currently employs 27 staff at its headquarters in Bochum (latest figures from May 2017), where R&D, management and back office are based. In late 2016 VMRay Inc. was set up as a separate entity in Boston, US. Here, a further four staff take care of the sales and marketing of VMRay solutions outside of Europe, principally in North America. The VMRay team of developers, malware reverse engineers, marketing specialists and back office staff is quite international, with seven different nationalities represented so far.