Researchers have developed an algorithm that can find the source of a computer virus, malware, or spam attack by checking only a small percentage of connections in a network.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's Pedro Pinto and colleagues devised the algorithm to estimate the possible location of the source from measurements collected by sparsely placed observers or sensors. The algorithm could help find the specific computer in the network that has been used to send spam so the network provider can shut it down. The network structure is used to examine who is connected to whom, as well as to determine the arrival time of the virus to the sensors.
Pinto says the algorithm has to analyze only 10 percent to 20 percent of all the nodes in a network to determine what the likely source of the attack is. "Sometimes this is 5 percent," he points out, noting that the number of nodes that need to be analyzed depends on the complexity of the network.
Other potential applications for the algorithm include finding the source of biological viruses, epidemics, airborne contaminants let loose by terrorists, or rumors spreading on Facebook.
From IDG News Service
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