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The impact of countermeasure propagation on the prevalence of computer viruses

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2 Author(s)
Li-Chiou Chen ; Dept. of Eng. & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA, USA ; Carley, K.M.

Countermeasures such as software patches or warnings can be effective in helping organizations avert virus infection problems. However, current strategies for disseminating such countermeasures have limited their effectiveness. We propose a new approach, called the countermeasure competing (CMC) strategy, and use computer simulation to formally compare its relative effectiveness with three antivirus strategies currently under consideration. CMC is based on the idea that computer viruses and countermeasures spread through two separate but interlinked complex networks - the virus-spreading network and the countermeasure-propagation network, in which a countermeasure acts as a competing species against the computer virus. Our results show that CMC is more effective than other strategies based on the empirical virus data. The proposed CMC reduces the size of virus infection significantly when the countermeasure-propagation network has properties that favor countermeasures over viruses, or when the countermeasure-propagation rate is higher than the virus-spreading rate. In addition, our work reveals that CMC can be flexibly adapted to different uncertainties in the real world, enabling it to be tuned to a greater variety of situations than other strategies.

Published in:

Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part B: Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 2 )

Date of Publication:

April 2004

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