Digital suicide proposed as network defense

Insecure devices to be detected and shut down by other devices - or itself - using a specially devised protocol

A Cambridge University team has come up with a novel way for computing devices to defend themselves against attack or malfunction of neighbors -- let them commit digital suicide.

The idea has been dubbed 'suicide revocation' by one of its inventors, PhD student Tyler Moore, and has special application in the field of emerging technologies, for example, in wireless sensory networks where devices peer with one another without using a server for control.

In such a network, a device that was not operating correctly, or perhaps had its security compromised in some way, could be shut down by a nearby device using a specially devised protocol, after its unreliability had been broadcast to other nodes.

But in a radical departure from today's security models, this device would also have to shut itself down to demonstrate good faith and stymie possible manipulation of the process, in effect commit suicide.

According to Moore, such ad-hoc networks were rare today, but would become more common in future, possible the dominant form of network system. Examples were car-to-car networks through which vehicles could communicate traffic and other safety data to one another in a dynamic way.

Similarly, the military were looking at networking devices for battlefield use, and such a system for excluding unreliable devices was essential in that environment. The concept could, in principle, be used for mainstream applications such as PCs, but this would require operation a network to be owned or controlled by only one company to avoid causing disputes.

"Networks in the future will become more peer-to-peer oriented. Services are being driven to the edge and you are going to see more responsibilities put on to clients," said Moore.

The software to make possible suicide revocation had been written, but so far only modelled in simulations to test its operation, he said.

The suicide idea sounds extreme, but the Cambridge researchers are reacting to the very different security problems presented by ad-hoc networks, which have yet to be thought through in enough detail to make them usable in the real world.

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

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.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?