Feb

14

Spreading Fixes by Worm

Posted by Keith McMillan

February 14, 2008 | 1 Comment

Microsoft is researching ways to spread computer fixes by making them more like worms, per this interesting article in The New Scientist.

Milan Vojnović and colleagues from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, want to make useful pieces of information such as software updates behave more like computer worms: spreading between computers instead of being downloaded from central servers.

I’m unsure how I feel about this, but I think it’s mostly negative, and that disappoints me. On the positive side, I think that it’s a cool idea that you’ve got autonomous pieces of software that are making their way around the net, and trying to install themselves on machines. It offloads servers, eliminates the need to go off hunting for fixes, all in all, noble goals.

I think where my concern comes from is that these types of worms are going to make use of the very same types of mechanisms used by the eeeevil worms to spread, or if not, then the eeeevil worms will soon start to masquerade or abuse the new mechanisms provided for the good ones. How do you tell the good guys from the bad guys?

In such an environment, I’d be inclined to disable the services such a “white-hat” worms use to access my systems until I had a good deal more opportunity to study how they really work in the wild. What do you think?


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Comment by Peter H Coffin
2008-02-14 21:13:00

Don’t like it. I don’t want guys breaking into my house to install smoke alarm batteries, or twisting the doorknob to make sure I’ve locked it, either. I’m good about fixing stuff that someone tells me is broken, but I don’t want something doing it FOR me.

 
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