Colonies of Cybots may defend government networks against network intruders

March 6th, 2009 - 1:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 6 (ANI): The future might see colonies of software robots called cybots linked into a hive mind that could be defending the largest computer systems in America against network intruders.

According to a report by Fox News, researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory said that the program behind the cybots Ubiquitous Transient Autonomous Mission Entities (UNTAME) will be very different from current cybersecurity systems.

Joe Trien, who leads the team at the labs Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, said what will make cybots so useful is that they will be able to form groups, function autonomously and respond almost immediately.

Trien likened the UNTAME framework to the Borg, a fictitious race of cybernetic organisms in Star Trek: The Next Generation that assimilated other cultures throughout the galaxy.

The difference between an agent-based system and UNTAME is that the cybots are designed to function on their own and they can regenerate, he said.

It works with other robots, and what it does is known by the collective. So, when you lose a robot, the collective hasnt lost the information that robot was able to achieve up until the point it was killed, he added.

Thats a quantum leap from current network intelligent agents, which specialize in a single task and report to a central node or human administrator.

UNTAMEs new levels of speed and automation will likely prevent hackers from targeting one area of an network while using a diversion at another location.

This comes at a time when cyber attacks on government computer networks spiked 40 percent last year, according to US-CERT, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

Trien warned that a coordinated cyberattack today could cripple critical U.S. infrastructures with little investment or expertise on behalf of a hacker.

You could be a cyber-terrorist sitting anywhere around the world, and you could shut down the United States economy if you were able to break into critical networks. Were very vulnerable, he said.

Not only could UNTAME help save thousands, even millions of dollars lost to cyber criminals, Trien points out that it will also also be cost-effective because once the system is set up, it runs itself.

You basically automate the process and do it real-time instead of having an individual doing it, Trien said. What took you hours may now take you seconds, he added. (ANI)

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