Now, a tool to arm cyberspace against malware

September 21st, 2012 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 21 (IANS) A cutting edge tool will automatically permit one computer in a virtual network to monitor another for intrusions, viruses or malware that cause them to malfunction.

The technique has been dubbed “space travel” because it sends computer data to a world outside its home, and bridges the gap between computer hardware and software systems.

“‘Space travel’ might change the daily practice for many services offered virtually for cloud providers and data centres today, and as this technology becomes more popular in a few years, for the user at home on their desktops,” said Zhiqiang Lin, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Texas Dallas, who led the research.

Lin said the ’space travel’ technique will help the FBI understand what is happening inside a suspect’s computer even if he is physically miles away, instead of having to buy expensive software, according to a Dallas statement.

As cloud computing is becoming more popular, new techniques to protect the systems must be developed. Since this type of computing is Internet-based, skilled computer specialists can control the main part of the system virtually - using software to emulate hardware.

Lin and his team programmed space travel to use existing code to gather information in a computer’s memory and automatically transfer it to a secure virtual machine - one that is isolated and protected from outside interference.

“You have an exact copy of the operating system of the computer inside the secure virtual machine that a hacker can’t compromise,” Lin said.

“Using this machine, then the user or anti-virus software can understand what’s happening with the space travelled computer setting off red flags if there is any intrusion.”

Previously, software developer had to write such tools manually.

“With our technique, the tools already being used on the computer become part of the defence process,” he said.

These findings were presented at the most recent IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

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