Hacking was in the news this week. If you looked, you’d see something along the lines of:
The British secret service got in on the action with a confectionary twist by hacking Al Qaeda’s English-language magazine and swapping out bomb making instructions with cupcake recipes. And the US military has a new report coming out that states that hacking can be considered an act of war.
And that’s where ants come in.
US researchers are developing software that mimics ant-like behavior in order to combat unwanted network intrusions.
Errin Fulp, a computer science professor at Wake Forest University, is creating an “army of digital ants” that can roam computer networks looking for threats, and hopes the technology can transform how we think about cyber security. Fulp says the technology is different than traditional security software models because it adapts rapidly to changing threats. “In nature, we know that ants defend against threats very successfully,” Fulp said. “They can ramp up their defense rapidly, and then resume routine behavior quickly after an intruder has been stopped. We’re trying to achieve that same framework in a computer system.”…
…This summer, Fulp is working with scientists at PNNL in Richland, Washington to train the “digital ants” to turn loose into the power grid to seek out computer viruses trying to wreak havoc on the system.
If the approach proves successful in safeguarding the power grid, it could have wide-ranging applications on protecting anything connected to SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) networks, software systems that monitor and control industrial processes, such as those in nuclear power plants, and other industrial facilities such as water and sewer management systems to mass transit systems to manufacturing systems.
Give it up for the little guys and, of course, biomimicry.
Photo: Ants and Aphids by Binux via Flickr/Creative Commons.