Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

2/20/2008
07:43 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Microsoft Moves To Squash 'Friendly' Worm

Last week, NewScientist ran a story about Microsoft's researching how worms -- really, really effective worms -- could be used to disseminate software patches. Today, Microsoft seems to be backing away from the idea.

Last week, NewScientist ran a story about Microsoft's researching how worms -- really, really effective worms -- could be used to disseminate software patches. Today, Microsoft seems to be backing away from the idea.I'm all for radical research. And who isn't? Some of the greatest ideas probably come from labs where researchers are given the freedom to brainstorm openly and are constantly greenfielding new ideas, or new approaches to old problems. It's how we may wake up one day and read in the paper that the secrets to unlocking nuclear fusion as an energy source have been unraveled.

And maybe there is a place for "friendly worms" that we've yet to think of.

Or, maybe there isn't a place for them at all.

As far as I'm concerned, nothing should run on a PC without the owner's consent, and based upon the research published, that's exactly what Microsoft was working on.

This is an excerpt from the report, with a very hip title: Sampling Strategies for Epidemic-Style Information Dissemination:

We consider epidemic-style information dissemination strategies that leverage the nonuniformity of host distribution over subnets (e.g., IP subnets) to optimize the information spread. Such epidemic-style strategies are based on random sampling of target hosts according to a sampling rule. In this paper, the objective is to optimize the information spread with respect to minimizing the total number of samplings to reach a target fraction of the host population.
What could the use of this research be, other than to offensively disseminate "information" (aka worms) to systems that have refused to apply an update, for whatever reason? Biological epidemics tend to spread through unwilling hosts.

But all is well that ends well. For now, it seems Microsoft has no intent to "productize" the friendly worm:

"This project is basic research, and there are no current plans to incorporate this into Microsoft products," said Milan Vojnovic, a researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, in a statement e-mailed to InformationWeek.

Let's hope this worm of an idea stays in its hole.

Here is our post from last week.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
Black Hat Q&A: Hacking a '90s Sports Car
Black Hat Staff, ,  11/7/2019
The Cold Truth about Cyber Insurance
Chris Kennedy, CISO & VP Customer Success, AttackIQ,  11/7/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18954
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Pomelo v2.2.5 allows external control of critical state data. A malicious user input can corrupt arbitrary methods and attributes in template/game-server/app/servers/connector/handler/entryHandler.js because certain internal attributes can be overwritten via a conflicting name. Hence, a malicious at...
CVE-2019-3640
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Unprotected Transport of Credentials in ePO extension in McAfee Data Loss Prevention 11.x prior to 11.4.0 allows remote attackers with access to the network to collect login details to the LDAP server via the ePO extension not using a secure connection when testing LDAP connectivity.
CVE-2019-3661
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an SQL Command ('SQL Injection') in McAfee Advanced Threat Defense (ATD) prior to 4.8 allows remote authenticated attacker to execute database commands via carefully constructed time based payloads.
CVE-2019-3662
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Path Traversal: '/absolute/pathname/here' vulnerability in McAfee Advanced Threat Defense (ATD) prior to 4.8 allows remote authenticated attacker to gain unintended access to files on the system via carefully constructed HTTP requests.
CVE-2019-3663
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Unprotected Storage of Credentials vulnerability in McAfee Advanced Threat Defense (ATD) prior to 4.8 allows local attacker to gain access to the root password via accessing sensitive files on the system.