Researchers tout zippier way to squash computer worms

New technique cuts time of identifying and capturing a worm from minutes to milliseconds

Penn State University researchers have created technology they say can nab computer worms more quickly than traditional signature-based systems and speedily set free the traffic if it's determined to be harmless after all.

The Proactive Worm Containment technology watches for a packet's rate and diversity of connections to other networks to identify worms, rather than having to wait around for a signature to be generated to spot new malware.

This technique can cut the time from identifying and capturing a worm from minutes to milliseconds, allowing for only a handful of infected packets to spread, the research team claims. That makes a big difference when you consider that notorious worms such as Slammer could issue 4,000 packets a second when attacking Microsoft's SQL Server.

"A lot of worms need to spread quickly in order to do the most damage, so our software looks for anomalies in the rate and diversity of connection requests going out of hosts," said lead researcher Peng Liu , an associate professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State, in a statement.

The technology, now in beta testing and in the midst of being patented, isn't just fast. It's also smart. In the event that a high connection rate turns out not to be the sign of a worm, the security system can do its version of a mea culpa and release the packets upon recognizing the mistake, the researchers say.

The technology can also be used in conjunction with signature-based detection systems to squelch slow as well as fast-moving worms.

Penn State researchers are putting lots of resources and brainpower toward making networks more secure. Other researchers at the school last year touted technology designed to enable databases to talk without giving away secrets to each other.

The university's Privacy-preserving Access Control Toolkit (PACT) relies on encryption of queries and data transmitted to protect sensitive information, including metadata. PACT is discussed in a paper called "Privacy-preserving Semantic Interoperation and Access Control of Heterogeneous Databases."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bob Brown

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?