Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Importance of modeling the spread of computer viruses

Note. The text below is part 3 of the paper titled "Epidemiological Modeling of Computer Virus Propagation."

It is usually difficult to prevent the launch of a new computer virus.  A new virus is usually not remedied by existing anti-viruses. The new program of this virus must be studied first before an antivirus program can be developed. Once launched, the propagation of the virus must least be controlled. Before effective control strategies can be presented, it is important to understand clearly how the computer virus propagates in the network7.  This can be achieved by a creating mathematical model of the propagation. The model helps in predicting future threats and in developing new measures to contain the virus.

The mathematical model needs to be well-designed and reliable. It must be accurate in its predictions and must be as general as possible, while remaining as simple and as low-cost as possible. The best model is one that is capable of detecting unknown viruses and their mutation8.

Objectives in developing a mathematical model

This paper’s objective is to develop a simple mathematical model that will describe the spread of computer virus under two scenarios. The first scenario is where a new virus gets launched to a group of interconnected computers. Being a new virus, the computers are assumed to have no antivirus to prevent the infection. The virus is said to be propagating freely.

The second scenario is where the virus gets launched to a group of interconnected computers at the time when the computers already have the necessary antivirus to cure the infection and prevent re-infection. The virus here is no longer propagating freely. 
7Giuseppe Serazzi and Stefano Zanero, “Computer Virus Propagation Models,” Dipartimento di Eletrronica e Informazione, Politecnico Milano (Milan, Italy, 2005), 1.
8Giuseppe Serazzi and Stefano Zanero, 2.

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