Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One Per Cent

Doubts over virus that can hunt down cyberattacks

Paul Marks, senior technology correspondent
129834072.jpg(Image: Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Victor Habbick/Getty Images)

Japanese defence engineers claim to have developed a computer virus that can be launched online to track down and disable the source of a cyber attack. If true - and many experts are deeply sceptical - it will mean that they have solved one of the major problems dogging the online security arena: the so-called "source attribution problem".
Attackers launching viruses or denial of service attacks can do so by using cascades of proxy servers (or a botnet) to spoof their source internet address. This means locating the origin of the attack is an utterly dastardly problem, with the source often obfuscated in a thicket of servers in countries beyond effective regulation. But in a three-year-project for Japan's Ministry of Defense the tech contractor Fujitsu has reportedly not only worked out how to solve this attribution problem but also how to destroy the attacking code it meets en route.
The Yomiuri Shimbun says "the virtual cyberweapon" has passed closed network tests in which it jumped between attacking computers, reached the origin of the attack and sent back ID information to its controllers. And all the while cleaning the servers of the attacking code.

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