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Study: Computers can 'evolve' for defense
by Staff Writers
Winston-Salem, N.C. (UPI) Feb 14, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

U.S. researchers say findings from genetics research are inspiring them in their search for ways to combat increasing number of global cyberattacks.

Scientists at Wake Forest University say they've used a genetically inspired algorithm to fight continual evolution of viruses, worms and malware with computer evolution, developing the first-ever automated computer configurations that adjust as quickly as the threats.

The algorithm proactively discovers more secure computer configurations by leveraging the genetic concept of "survival of the fittest" in a computer network, a Wake Forest release said Tuesday.

"Typically, administrators configure hundreds and sometimes thousands of machines the same way, meaning a virus that infects one could affect any computer on the same network," researcher Michael Crouse said.

"If successful, automating the ability to ward off attacks could play a crucial role in protecting highly sensitive data within large organizations."

Cyberattacks usually take place in two phases, the researchers said. In the reconnaissance phase, a virus simply observes, identifies possible defense mechanisms and looks for the best way in.

If nothing has changed since the reconnaissance phase upon the virus's return, it strikes, but even the slightest change in environment -- accomplished automatically by the algorithm -- can make a huge difference in deterring potential attackers, they said.

"If we can automatically change the landscape by adding the technological equivalent of security cameras or additional lighting, the resulting uncertainty will lower the risk of attack," researcher Errin Fulp said.


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Hackers claim to take down US tear gas maker site
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2012
The "Anonymous" hacking group on Tuesday claimed to have shut down the website of security firm Combined Systems, which it accused of providing the tear gas used in crackdowns on protests. The statement circulated in forums used by the shadowy "hacktivist" group could not immediately be confirmed. The Combined Systems website appeared to be down, and the company could not immediately be reac ... read more

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