Computer, Heal Thyself - With ClearView
ClearView software is designed to work on multiple computers that are running the same software, as is often the case on large server farms. ClearView monitors the behavior of programs and establishes a set of rules or parameters of normal operation.
When a potentially harmful vulnerability is discovered in a piece of software, it takes nearly a month on average for human engineers to come up with a fix and to push the fix out to affected systems, according to a report issued by security company Symantec in 2006. The researchers, who collaborated with a startup called Determina on the work, hope that the new software, called ClearView, will speed this process up, making software significantly more resilient against failure or attack.
ClearView works without assistance from humans and without access to a program's underlying source code (an often proprietary set of instructions that defines how a piece of software will behave). Instead, the system monitors the behavior of a binary: the form the program takes in order to execute instructions on a computer's hardware.
Once it determines that a software intrusion has taken place, it identifies which operational rule the target program is violating. ClearView then applies a software patch focused on the particular problem and then tests to see if a solution has been effected.
Most impressively, it then applies that patch to all of the other instances of the software running on different machines, "inoculating" them against intrusion.
To test the system, the researchers installed ClearView on a group of computers running Firefox and hired an independent team to attack the Web browser. The hostile team used 10 different attack methods, each of which involved injecting some malicious code into Firefox. ClearView successfully blocked all of the would-be attacks by detecting misbehavior and terminating the application before the attack could have its intended effect. The very first time ClearView encounters an exploit it closes the program and begins analyzing the binary, searching for a patch that could have stopped the error.
For seven of the attacking team's approaches, ClearView created patches that corrected the underlying errors. In all cases, it discarded corrections that had negative side effects. On average, ClearView came up with a successful patch within about five minutes of its first exposure to an attack.
"What this research is leading us to believe is that software isn't in itself inherently fragile and brittle because of errors," says Rinard. "It's fragile and brittle because people are afraid to let the software continue if they think there's something wrong with it." Some software engineering approaches, such as "failure-oblivious computing" or "acceptable computing," share this philosophy.
I was pretty sure that I had read about this idea a long time ago, and sure enough, the City Fathers from James Blish's excellent 1957 series Cities in Flight oversaw each others work and prevented error and damage. The City Fathers were a set of artificially intelligent computer systems that oversaw operations for an entire city that had used the spindizzy to seek work among the stars.
It's easy to think that because the City Fathers are dead, they're also stupidů Otherwise they would never be given the power they wield - and in some departments their power is absolute.
Suppose they had a breakdown?
If there were only a few of them, that would be a real danger; but there are more than a hundred, and they monitor and repair each other, so in fact it will never happen. Sanity and logic is their stock in trade.
(Read more about the City Fathers from Cities in Flight.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/1/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Shelley.ai AI Terrifies Thanks To Reddit's Nosleep
'How can you compete with IBM?' - JG Ballard, 1971.
A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?
Our GodBot, Who Art In Cyberspace
Vaal hungers! We must serve him.
Will Robots Be Moral If We Raise Them Like Our Children?
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...' - Henry Slesar, 1958.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'
iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.
Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'
Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.
RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.
Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.'
Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.
Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'
Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.
Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'
PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'
Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'
UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.
Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'
Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories