'Digital ants' army may soon protect computers against virus
Monday, 30 May 2011, 02:52 Hrs
Houston: As the chances of cyber attack increases, programmers have been finding foolproof protection for computers against virus, but it still find ways to attack and jeopardize the system. However, a few of the programmers have been inspired by watching how ants protect their colony when under a threat. When an ant comes across an intruder, other members of the colony help it and deal with any unwelcome visitor. This sort of "swarming intelligence" is currently being tested for use in software by a team at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PPNL). Errin Fulp, a professor of computer science at Wake Forest University, is training an army of "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, computer systems that control everything from water and sewer management systems to mass transit systems to manufacturing systems. Fulp is working this summer with scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, on the next steps in the digital ants technology, developed by PNNL and Wake Forest over the last several years. The approach is so promising that it was named one of the "ten technologies that have the power to change our lives," by Scientific American magazine last year.