US researchers claim new system kills worm outbreaks

Proactive Worm Containment system is said to counter one of the biggest issues in worm defence

U.S. researchers have come up with a technique that claims to be able to stop Internet worms within milliseconds of an outbreak.

The Proactive Worm Containment (PWC) system, as its inventors at Penn State University call it, uses no signatures to identify an attack. Instead it relies on the frequency of connections at a packet level, and analyses the number of connections this traffic is making to other networks.

This is said to counter one of the biggest issues in worm defence, namely that they spread at incredible speed before they can be stopped. By the time security systems have recovered, the damage is often done.

To avoid the danger of false positives -- the researchers admit that not all traffic showing these patterns is necessarily non-legitimate -- the system uses what appear to be algorithmic techniques to double-check the initial diagnosis. Any host identified as spreading a worm is disconnected from the node to which it is attempting to connect and spread its payload. Taken across networks as a whole, this could at least slow down the spread of a particular worm so that defenses can be hardened.

"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 Peng Liu, the leader of the research team at the University.

Liu admits the technique, which is to be patented, cannot stop the movement of slow-spreading worms, though these might be reckoned to be less hazardous. "PWC can quickly unblock any mistakenly blocked hosts," said Liu.

Penn State's PWC is far from the first anti-worm system out there. IBM also has its 'Billy Goat' which creates a series of virtual servers in order to detect and isolate network traffic anomalies, including DDoS attacks and worms.

In the last two years, the threat of Internet worms has receded as criminals have focused on more profitable forms of malware. An increasing number of worms now spread through specific channels, a good example of which was last year's Javascript-based Yamanner that affected Yahoo.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?