Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Algorithm developed to reveal source of malware and spam attacks

The algorithm aims to determine the probable source of an online attack by analysing about ten percent of the network connections

Article comments

An algorithm that can be used to locate spammers as well as the source of a computer virus or malware has been developed by scientists in Switzerland.

The algorithm finds the source by only checking a small percentage of the connections in a network, said Pedro Pinto, postdoctoral researcher at the Audiovisual Communications Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) this morning.

If you would like to find the source of a virus, malware or spam-attack it is impossible to track the status of all nodes on the internet, Pinto said. "That would mean you would need about one billion sensors. And you don't want to monitor the entire internet," he added.

Instead he and his colleagues devised an algorithm that shows that it is possible to estimate the location of the source from measurements collected by sparsely placed observers or sensors.

By using the algorithm the specific computer in the network from which the spam mail is being sent can be found so that the network provider can shut it down for instance, said Pinto. Using the same method, the first computer where a virus was injected could be pinpointed, he added.

The location of the source is basically accomplished by using the network structure, looking at who is connected to whom, as well as determining the time of arrival of the virus to the sensors, Pinto said.

The algorithm only has to analyse 10-20% percent of all the nodes in a network to determine what the likely source of an attack is, Pinto said. "Sometimes this is 5%," he added, pointing out that the number of nodes that need to be analysed depends on the complexity of the network.

The workings of the algorithm were detailed in a paper entitled 'Locating the source of diffusion in large-scale networks' that was published in the Physical Review Letters journal last week.

In the paper, the scientists expect that the algorithm can be used for other things besides finding computer culprits. The method is for instance intended to find the source of biological viruses and epidemics like SARS - the algorithm could be used to determine the city in which the virus appeared for the first time. But it could also be used to find the source of a rumour spreading on Facebook or sniff out the source of an airborne contaminant that was let loose by terrorists in a subway network, according to the scientists.

While the technique could have uses in many different industries, the first commercial interest in the algorithm has come from computer security companies, Pinto said. "Some companies emailed me after we published the paper last Friday," he said, adding that he did not want to disclose the names of the companies.

Another natural fit for the technology would be its use by public services like governments, Pinto said. Besides looking for ways to use the technology commercially, the scientists will also try to improve the results of the algorithm.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *