Japanese media this week broke the news that the Japanese Defense Ministry is in the midst of a $2.3 million effort with partner Fujitsu Ltd. to design a so-called "good virus."
The virus will be able to identify, track and disable sources of cyberattacks, according to Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese national daily newspaper that broke the story.
Tested in a closed network environment, the so-called beneficial virus has the capability to trace cyberattacks back to its sources. The unnamed cyberweapon also goes beyond the immediate source of the attack and identifies “springboard” systems that were used to transmit the virus.
Once identified and tracked, the good virus disables the bad virus and at the same time collects “relevant data” for later computer forensics, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.
Sources within the ministry familiar with the project claim the virus has a “high degree” of accuracy in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as well as those attacks intended to siphon off data from targeted computers.
The news of yet more cyberweaponry is not all good. Ever since the Stuxnet virus struck Iran's
“An out-of-control good virus could spread randomly or unexpectedly from machine to machine, meaning it may be hard to contain,” said cybersleuth Graham Cluley, who noted any program that uses viral code can also be designed with non-replicating software.
At present, most of today’s antivirus software would attempt to bring down any virus even one that some call beneficial.
The idea of a beneficial virus is not new. In the 1990s Vesseliln Bontchev wrote a paper on the concept of fighting bad viruses with a useful virus. The paper was titled, Are Good Computer Viruses Still a Bad Idea?
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