Security

Characterizing and Defending Against Divide-Conquer-Scanning Worms

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Executive Summary

Internet worms are a significant security threat. Divide-conquer scanning is a simple yet effective technique that can potentially be exploited for future Internet epidemics. Therefore, it is imperative that defenders understand the characteristics of divide-conquer-scanning worms and study the effective countermeasures. In this paper, the authors first examine the divide-conquer-scanning worm and its potential to spread faster and stealthier than a traditional random-scanning worm. They then characterize the relationship between the propagation speed of divide-conquer-scanning worms and the distribution of vulnerable hosts through mathematical analysis and simulations. Specifically, they find that if vulnerable hosts follow a non-uniform distribution such as the Witty-worm victim distribution, divide-conquer scanning can spread a worm much faster than random scanning.

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