Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ants Vs. Worms: New Computer Security Mimics Nature

29.09.2009
In the never-ending battle to protect computer networks from intruders, security experts are deploying a new defense modeled after one of nature’s hardiest creatures — the ant.

Unlike traditional security devices, which are static, these “digital ants” wander through computer networks looking for threats, such as “computer worms” — self-replicating programs designed to steal information or facilitate unauthorized use of machines. When a digital ant detects a threat, it doesn’t take long for an army of ants to converge at that location, drawing the attention of human operators who step in to investigate.

The concept, called “swarm intelligence,” promises to transform cyber security because it adapts readily to changing threats.

“In nature, we know that ants defend against threats very successfully,” explains Wake Forest Professor of Computer Science Errin Fulp, an expert in security and computer networks. “They can ramp up their defense rapidly, and then resume routine behavior quickly after an intruder has been stopped. We were trying to achieve that same framework in a computer system.”

Current security devices are designed to defend against all known threats at all times, but the bad guys who write malware — software created for malicious purposes — keep introducing slight variations to evade computer defenses.

As new variations are discovered and updates issued, security programs gobble more resources, antivirus scans take longer and machines run slower — a familiar problem for most computer users.

Glenn Fink, a research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash., came up with the idea of copying ant behavior. PNNL, one of 10 Department of Energy laboratories, conducts cutting-edge research in cyber security.

Fink was familiar with Fulp’s expertise developing faster scans using parallel processing — dividing computer data into batches like lines of shoppers going through grocery store checkouts, where each lane is focused on certain threats. He invited Fulp and Wake Forest graduate students Wes Featherstun and Brian Williams to join a project there this summer that tested digital ants on a network of 64 computers.

Swarm intelligence, the approach developed by PNNL and Wake Forest, divides up the process of searching for specific threats.

“Our idea is to deploy 3,000 different types of digital ants, each looking for evidence of a threat,” Fulp says. “As they move about the network, they leave digital trails modeled after the scent trails ants in nature use to guide other ants. Each time a digital ant identifies some evidence, it is programmed to leave behind a stronger scent. Stronger scent trails attract more ants, producing the swarm that marks a potential computer infection.”

In the study this summer, Fulp introduced a worm into the network, and the digital ants successfully found it. PNNL has extended the project this semester, and Featherstun and Williams plan to incorporate the research into their master’s theses.

Fulp says the new security approach is best suited for large networks that share many identical machines, such as those found in governments, large corporations and universities.

Computer users need not worry that a swarm of digital ants will decide to take up residence in their machine by mistake. Digital ants cannot survive without software “sentinels” located at each machine, which in turn report to network “sergeants” monitored by humans, who supervise the colony and maintain ultimate control.

Eric F. Frazier | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wfu.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668

nachricht Drones can almost see in the dark
20.09.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>