03 Oct 2011

Researcher figures out new way to anticipate viruses

A researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas has discovered a new way to anticipate the actions of computer viruses, according to Signal Online. The new way could herald a new generation of antivirus software and strategies that combat malware that attacks computers, servers and networks.

Dr. Kevin Hamlen, a researcher with UT-Dallas' Cyber Security Research Center, has received a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation for his work in what he calls the "virus-antivirus arms race." The new took take advantage of computing capabilities and instructions already backed into many computer chips currently in use.

“Right now, the way most viruses work,” he explained, “is that they randomly propagate throughout the network, and they randomly mutate themselves to avoid being exact copies, so they become harder to detect. What our research was looking at was could these viruses get worse by, instead of randomly mutating, mutating in a direct fashion, so they infect a machine, actively detect what sorts of defenses are on that machine, learn about them using advanced machine learning techniques, and then actively work to defeat those defenses in a network fashion.”

According to the college's website, Hamlen and about 100 other people nationwide have dedicated themselves to developing the field of language-based internet security. The profile on Hamlen said that rather than trying to change the computer world, their goal is to make the world safer within existing parameters.