Dynamic detection and immunisation of malware using mobile agents.

AL Sebea, Hussain (2005) Dynamic detection and immunisation of malware using mobile agents. MEng thesis, Edinburgh Napier University.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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At present, malicious software (mal-ware) is causing many problems on private networks and the Internet. One major cause of this includes outdated or absent security software to countermeasure these anomalies such as Antivirus software and Personal Firewalls. Another cause is that mal-ware can exploit weaknesses in software, notably operating systems. This can be reduced by use of a patch service, which automatically downloads patches to its clients. Unfortunately this can lead to new problems introduced by the patch server itself.

The aim of this project is to produce a more flexible approach in which agent programs are dispatched to clients (which in turn run static agent programs), allowing them to communicate locally rather than over the network. Thus, this project uses mobile agents which are software agents which can be given an itinerary and migrate to different hosts, interrogating the static agents therein for any suspicious files. These mobile agents are deployed with a list of known mal-ware signatures and their corresponding cures, which are used as a reference to determine whether a reported suspect is indeed malicious. The overall system is responsible for Dynamic Detection and Immunisation of Mal-ware using Mobile Agents (DIMA) on peer to peer (P2P) systems. DIMA is be categorised under Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and deals with the specific branch of malicious software discovery and removal.

DIMA was designed using Borland Delphi to implement the static agent due to its seamless integration with the Windows operating system, whereas the mobile agent was implemented in Java, running on the Grasshopper mobile agent environment, due to its compliance with several mobile agent development standards and in-depth documentation.

In order to evaluate the characteristics of the DIMA system a number of experiments were carried out. This included measuring the total migration time and host hardware specification and its effect on trip timings. Also, as the mobile agent migrated, its size was measured between hops to see how this varied as more data was collected from hosts.

The main results of this project show that the time the mobile agent took to visit all predetermined hosts increased linearly as the number of hosts grew (the average inter-hop interval was approximately 1 second). It was also noted that modifications to hardware specifications in a group of hosts had minimal effect on the total journey time for the mobile agent. Increasing a group of host’s processor speeds or RAM capacity made a subtle difference to round trip timings (less than 300 milliseconds faster than a slower group of hosts). Finally, it was proven that as the agent made more hops, it increased in size due to the accumulation of statistical data collected (57 bytes after the first hop, and then a constant increase of 4 bytes per hop thereafter).

Item Type: Thesis (MEng)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maliscious software; malware; security software; antivirus software; firewalls; mobile agents; hosts; dynamic detection; P2P systems; Intrusion detection systems;
University Divisions/Research Centres: Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Creative Industries > School of Computing
Dewey Decimal Subjects: 000 Computer science, information & general works > 000 Computer science, knowledge & systems > 005 Computer programming, programs & data > 005.8 Data security
Library of Congress Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Item ID: 4036
Depositing User: Professor Bill Buchanan
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2011 15:39
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2011 04:57

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