Microsoft research revives 'friendly worm' ideas

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Feb 15, 2008

Malware techniques proposed as update-spreading method.

A group of Microsoft researchers have put forward proposals to use worm techniques to spread patches and updates across networks, reopening an age-old debate on the possibility of 'beneficial malware'.

The research, to be presented at the INFOCOM conference in April by a team from Microsoft's Cambridge, UK, research outfit, suggests the use of worm-like software with highly sophisticated learning mechanisms to probe systems not yet infected and move on to new subnets once the local area has been covered or deemed unusable as a target. The aim of the scheme is to reduce networking overheads by moving data required for fixes from system to system in a distributed manner rather than from a central point.

The ideas have recalled several previous proposals in a similar vein, generally found to be deeply flawed. Issues with such methods include ethical problems with modifying software and systems without permission, safety issues regarding controlling spreading, ensuring changes do not cause unexpected results and the potential for abuse for malicious ends, as well as difficulties in managing proper interaction with security software. Some real-life worms have implemented similar strategies to eliminate other malware, including W32/Nachi which attempted to remove W32/Blaster and W32/MyDoom infections and apply security patches.

A report on the proposals is in the New Scientist here, with comment on the ESET blog here.

Posted on 15 February 2008 by Virus Bulletin



Latest posts:

VB2019 paper: APT cases exploiting vulnerabilities in region-specific software

At VB2019, JPCERT/CC's Shusei Tomonaga and Tomoaki Tani presented a paper on attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in software used only in Japan, using malware that is unique to Japan. Today we publish both their paper and the recording of their…

New paper: Detection of vulnerabilities in web applications by validating parameter integrity and data flow graphs

In a follow-up to a paper presented at VB2019, Prismo Systems researchers Abhishek Singh and Ramesh Mani detail algorithms that can be used to detect SQL injection in stored procedures, persistent cross-site scripting (XSS), and server‑side request…

VB2020 programme announced

VB is pleased to reveal the details of an interesting and diverse programme for VB2020, the 30th Virus Bulletin International Conference.

VB2019 paper: Cyber espionage in the Middle East: unravelling OSX.WindTail

At VB2019 in London, Jamf's Patrick Wardle analysed the WindTail macOS malware used by the WindShift APT group, active in the Middle East. Today we publish both Patrick's paper and the recording of his presentation.

VB2019 paper: 2,000 reactions to a malware attack – accidental study

At VB2019 cybercrime journalist and researcher Adam Haertlé presented an analysis of almost 2000 unsolicited responses sent by victims of a malicious email campaign. Today we publish both his paper and the recording of his presentation.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.