Scientists in Switzerland say they have developed an algorithm that can locate the source of spam and malware attacks. The researchers at the Audiovisual Communications Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology say the algorithm works by analyzing a small sampling of the computers on a given network and can isolate the one responsible for pumping out the spam.
“If you would like to find the source of a virus, malware or spam-attack it is impossible to track the status of all nodes on the Internet”, EPFL researcher Pedro Pinto said in a telephone interview with PCWorld. “That would mean you would need about 1 billion sensors. And you don’t want to monitor the entire Internet,” he added.
With the algorithm only 10-20% of nodes on a given network would be needed. The researchers say it could also be used to locate the source of malware distributions and everything from the source of a false rumor on Facebook to the source of a disease outbreak or biological weapon attack. They expect to have interest from governments, defense contractors and security firms.
Sounds incredibly useful and interesting but the researchers published a detailed paper about how the algorithm works in a scholarly journal. This makes me wonder just how much information they gave out and if that data can be used by spammers and others to thwart the algorithm. Do you think discoveries like this should be kept out of journals and other public documents if there is a potential for misuse?