Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Digital Ants take on Digital Worms


Scientists from Wake Forest University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created an army of digital ants and their superior officers, digital sergeants and sentinels, to search out viruses, worms and other malware.

Well, that leaves my SimAnt software in the dust! Dude.. I always loved SimAnt.


Like their biological counterparts, each individual ant is not very bright. A connection rate, CPU utilization or one of about 60 other technical details is all they can sense. When an ant detects something unusual, it leaves a digital pheromone, a tiny digital sense that says something unusual is going on here, and that other ants should check it out.

The digital ants report any suspicious activity to a digital sentinel, a program designed to watch over a set of computers in a network. The sentinel sorts through all the information the ants gather, and if its suspicious, passes the information on to a digital sergeant. The sergeant then alerts the human supervisor, who can the deal with the problem.

Ahah! Human Supervisor? We're all friggin' doomed, as the Mogambu Guru would tout (he's right!). As soon as the Human Supervisor get's his cheesy-poof-laden hands on the situation, I might as well kiss my software goodbye.


If a particular kind of ant finds lots of problems then more of them are created to monitor the problem. The entire system is modeled off of a normal ant colony and uses "swarm intelligence" to find and diagnose problems.

Sweet, swarms! I love swarms, except swarms of Zombies, of course.

Final Quip:

The researchers created four digital ants of the 64 types then eventually want. To test their effectiveness, they set up a bank of computers and released three worms into the ant-infested Linux-based computers. The four digital ants in the computers had never seen the viruses before, yet identified the virus by only monitoring four very specific aspects of the computers.

Apparently, The Ants don't do typos. Too bad... we could all use that.

Linux FTW! BorePatch will be pleased!


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