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
Commentary
Cyberattacks Are Tailored to Employees ... Why Isn't Security Training?
Tim Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Tessian,  6/17/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Powerful Cybersecurity Skills the Energy Sector Needs Most
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer,  6/22/2021
News
Microsoft Disrupts Large-Scale BEC Campaign Across Web Services
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/15/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32823
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
In the bindata RubyGem before version 2.4.10 there is a potential denial-of-service vulnerability. In affected versions it is very slow for certain classes in BinData to be created. For example BinData::Bit100000, BinData::Bit100001, BinData::Bit100002, BinData::Bit<N>. In combination with &lt...
CVE-2021-35041
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
The blockchain node in FISCO-BCOS V2.7.2 may have a bug when dealing with unformatted packet and lead to a crash. A malicious node can send a packet continuously. The packet is in an incorrect format and cannot be decoded by the node correctly. As a result, the node may consume the memory sustainabl...
CVE-2021-2322
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
Vulnerability in OpenGrok (component: Web App). Versions that are affected are 1.6.7 and prior. Easily exploitable vulnerability allows low privileged attacker with network access via HTTPS to compromise OpenGrok. Successful attacks of this vulnerability can result in takeover of OpenGrok. CVSS 3.1 ...
CVE-2021-20019
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
A vulnerability in SonicOS where the HTTP server response leaks partial memory by sending a crafted HTTP request, this can potentially lead to an internal sensitive data disclosure vulnerability.
CVE-2021-21809
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
A command execution vulnerability exists in the default legacy spellchecker plugin in Moodle 3.10. A specially crafted series of HTTP requests can lead to command execution. An attacker must have administrator privileges to exploit this vulnerabilities.