Cybersecurity System Mimics Human Immune Response

In this Discovery News article, author Eric Niiler examines how cybersecurity experts believe that computers will one day be able to monitor their own health through a “healthy ecosystem” program that fights threats. And to get there, scientists and engineers are looking to the human immune system as a model.

“We want the machines to take a more active part in their own protection,” said Bruce McConnell, senior counselor for cyber security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as quoted in the Discovery News article. “We want to use their brains to protect themselves, but always in the context of the policies of the system administrators and owners.”

McConnell coauthored a new DHS white paper, called “Enabling Distributed Security in Cyberspace: Building a Healthy and Resilient Cyber Ecosystem with Automated Collective Action.” The report puts out this future scenario: Computers collaborating to fight threats, adapt rapidly, and identify and defeat problems.

“Right now, computers are not very good at catching things that they haven’t seen before,” McConnell said in the article. “In contrast, the human immune system has evolved to fight intruders that it doesn’t recognize. It says: ‘This is not me. Maybe I need to send something down there to take a look at it, and maybe quarantine it.’”

The first step in this future scenario would be to get computers to recognize and react to threats — automatically and instantly between machines at different government agencies.

Experts are reportedly now working on this type of interoperability by examining new models of “nature-inspired defense,” such as the human immune system.

For more information about the future of automatic computerized cybersecurity, read the full article:

Also, check out this fun quiz on cybersecurity:
While the quiz has more to do with history and news than actual cybersecurity issues, the Disaster Resource GUIDE publisher enjoyed the study, but will not reveal his score. Let’s just say he learned a lot by taking the quiz!