Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

System halts computer viruses, worms, before end-user stage

12.11.2003


Scanning all of Shakespeare in 1/60th of a second


John Lockwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science and engineering, programs the data enabling device to thwart the SoBig worm. Lockwood and his graduate students have approached the problem of halting worms and viruses via hardware instead of software. When a virus or worm is detected, the system either can drop the malicious traffic or generate a pop-up message on an end-user’s computer.



A computer scientist at Washington University in St. Louis has developed technology to stop malicious software - malware - such as viruses and worms long before it even has a chance to reach computers in the home and office.

John Lockwood, Ph.D., an assistant professor of computer science at Washington University, and the graduate students that work in his research laboratory have developed a hardware platform called the Field-programmable Port Extender (FPX) that scans for malware transmitted over a network and filters out unwanted data.



"The FPX uses several patented technologies in order to scan for the signatures of malware quickly," said Lockwood. "Unlike existing network intrusion systems, the FPX uses hardware, not software, to scan data quickly. The FPX can scan each and every byte of every data packet transmitted through a network at a rate of 2.4 billion bits per second. In other words, the FPX could scan every word in the entire works of Shakespeare in about 1/60th of a second."

Lockwood published his results in Military and Aerospace Programmable Logic Device (MALPD), Sept.,2003.

The paper is dowloadable online at:
http://www.arl.wustl.edu/~lockwood/publications/MAPLD_2003_e10_lockwood_p.pdf.

Computer virus and Internet worm attacks are aggravating, costly, and a threat to our homeland security. Recent attacks by Nimba, Code Red, Slammer, SoBigF, and MSBlast have infected computers globally, clogged large computer networks, and degraded corporate productivity. It can take weeks to months for Information Technology staff to clean up all of the computers throughout a network after an outbreak. The direct cost to recover from just the ’Code Red version two’ worm alone was $2.6 billion.

The United States has come to depend on computers to support its critical infrastructure. The nation’s power system, financial networks, and military infrastructure all rely on computers to operate. As a form of terrorism, a foreign agent could introduce a malignant worm or virus disguised as benign data to attack computers throughout a network. Terrorists could use this malware to bring down crucial components of our corporate infrastructure and military.

In much the same way that a human virus spreads between people that come in contact, computer viruses and Internet worms spread when computers come in contact over the Internet. Viruses spread when a computer user downloads unsafe software, opens a malicious attachment, or exchanges infected computer programs over a network. An Internet Worm spreads over the network automatically when malicious software exploits one or more vulnerabilities in an operating system, a Web server, a database application, or an email exchange system.

Existing firewalls do little to protect against such attacks. Once a few systems are compromised, they proceed to infect other machines, which in turn quickly spread throughout a network.

"As is the case with the spread of a contagious disease like SARS, the number of infected computers will grow exponentially unless contained," Lockwood said. "The speed of today’s computers and vast reach of the Internet, however, make a computer virus or Internet worm spread much faster than human diseases. In the case of SoBigF, over one million computers were infected within the first 24 hours and over 200 million computers were infected within a week."

Today, most Internet worms and viruses are not detected until after they reach an end-user’s personal computer. It is difficult for companies, universities, and government agencies to maintain network-wide security.

Unfair burden on end-users

"Placing the burden of detection on the end -user isn’t efficient or trustworthy because individuals tend to ignore warnings about installing new protection software and the latest security updates, "Lockwood pointed out. "New vulnerabilities are discovered daily, but not all users take the time to download new patches the moment they are posted. It can take weeks for an IT department to eradicate old versions of vulnerable software running on end-system computers."

The high speed of the FPX is possible because the logic on the FPX is implemented as Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) circuits, Lockwood explained. These circuits are used to scan and filter Internet traffic for worms and viruses using FPGA circuits that operate in parallel. Lockwood’s group has developed and implemented circuits that process the Internet protocol (IP) packets directly in hardware. They also have developed several circuits that rapidly scan streams of data for strings or regular expressions in order to find the signatures of malware carried within the payload of Internet packets.

"On the FPX, the reconfigurable hardware can be dynamically reconfigured over the network to search for new attack patterns," Lockwood said. "Should a new Internet worm or virus be detected, multiple FPX devices can be immediately programmed to search for their signatures. Each FPX device then filters traffic passing over the network, so that it can immediately quarantine a virus or Internet worms within sub networks (subnets). By just installing a few such devices between subnets, a single device can protect thousands of users. By installing multiple devices at key locations throughout a network, large networks can be protected."

A local St. Louis company, Global Velocity, is building commercial systems that use the FPX technology. The company is working with local companies, international corporations, universities, and the government to make plans to install systems in both local-area and wide-area networks. The device self-integrates easily into existing Gigabit Ethernet or Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) networks.

The FPX itself fits within a rack-mounted chassis that can be installed in any network closet. When a virus or worm is detected, the system can either silently drop the malicious traffic or generate a pop-up message on an end-user’s computer. An administrator uses a simple, web-based interface to control and configure the system.

Tony Fitzpatrick | WUSTL
Further information:
http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/477.html
http://www.arl.wustl.edu/~lockwood/publications/MAPLD_2003_e10_lockwood_p.pdf

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Cloud technology: Dynamic certificates make cloud service providers more secure
15.01.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht New discovery could improve brain-like memory and computing
10.01.2018 | University of Minnesota

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>