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Researchers have a plan to rid the Internet of viruses

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December 6, 2005

Internet security scientists at Tel Aviv University have designed a plan to rid the Internet of viruses using a large network of automated virus clean-up robots. The project centres on a network of so-called 'honey-pot' computers, which are made to look like unpatched PCs. These computers attract viruses and automatically work out a viral signature file and cleverly start to distribute the fix immediately.

At the same time, all the other honey-pots in the network get updated automatically and start delivering patches simultaneously.

The scheme is detailed in an academic paper, entitled Distributive Immunization of Networks Against Viruses Using the 'Honey-Pot' Architecture, written by PhD student Eran Shir, with collaboration from Dr Yuval Shavit and Hebrew University professors Sorin Solomon and Jacob Goldenberg.

According to the researchers, the system is low cost and scales up well since the larger the network the more efficient it becomes. They claim that the "cure information" can be spread faster than the virus itself.

"The main problem with epidemic vaccine propagation is that it is bound to lag behind the virus," said Shir.

"We suggest giving the vaccine an advantage over the virus by allowing it to leapfrog through a separate, overlapping, partially correlated network. This enables the anti-virus to contain the epidemic efficiently."

Tests revealed that if a network has 50,000 nodes and just 0.4 per cent of those are honey-pots, five per cent of the network will be infected before the immune system halts the virus.

But a 200-million-node network with the same proportion of honey-pots should see just 0.001 per cent of machines becoming infected.

Source: Vnunet

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