The Ecology of Malware

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Executive Summary

The fight against malicious software (or malware, which includes everything from worms to viruses to botnets) is often viewed as an "Arms Race." Conventional wisdom is that one must continually "Raise the Bar" for the malware creators. However, the multitude of malware has itself evolved into a complex environment, and properties not unlike those of ecological systems have begun to emerge. In this position paper, it argued that taking an ecological approach to malware defense will suggest new defenses. In particular, it can exploit the fact that interactions of malware with its environment, and with other malware, are neither fully predictable nor fully controllable by the malware author - yet the emergent behavior will follow general ecological principles that can be exploited for malware defense.

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