A new technique for combating cybercriminals, developed by a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), could offer 100% protection against "cyberattacks launched through internet videos or images," the university announced Monday.
Despite recent concerns about the safety of connected smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), a BGU press release claimed that attacks via internet video are currently a bigger threat to users. Ofer Hadar, chair of BGU's Department of Communication Systems Engineering, said in the release that downloaded photos and videos are increasingly becoming the pathway for hackers to deliver a cyberattack.
"Hackers like videos and pictures because they bypass the regular data transfer systems of highly secure systems, and there is significant space in which to implant malicious code," Hadar said in the release.
SEE: Information security incident reporting policy (Tech Pro Research)
The latest group of WikiLeaks documents claim that organizations like the CIA are relying on IoT devices to spy on US citizens. However, the release said, attacks through video are a more concerning and far-reaching threat. BGU cited a recent Cisco report that claims video will make up 82% of all internet traffic by 2020, adding weight to the potential threat.
The technique to combat the threat, which was developed by Hadar, relies on a set of algorithms to essentially keep the attack from extracting personal information through the compromised photo or video. These kind of threats are known as steganography, or attacks that hide malicious content in an unassuming carrier, such as a video or image file.
"We are dealing nowadays with the use of steganography to insert malicious codes within videos and photos to attack the viewer," Hadar said in the release. "We have developed algorithms to find a solution to that problem in the 'compressed domain.' The idea is to manipulate the file's 'payload' to remove the malicious code without damaging the data quality."
The approach is known as the The Coucou Project, the release said. If basic malware is present on a victim's server and is gathering classified information, the approach can prevent it from embedding that classified information in uploaded content. Additionally, if other types of compromised content are uploaded to a shared server, the technique could prevent them from extracting and running the malicious code embedded in the file, the release said.
"Preliminary experimental results show that a method based on a combination of Coucou Project techniques results in virtually 100 percent protection against cyberattacks," Hadar said in the release. "We envision that firewall and antivirus companies will be able to utilize Coucou protection applications and techniques in their products."
While its application is fairly broad, the new approach doesn't necessarily account for all types of cybersecurity attacks. However, if successful as a commercial product, the technique could become a valuable weapon in enterprises across the world.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- A Ben-Gurion University researcher has developed a new method for cybersecurity defense that he claims provides 100% protection against cyberattacks coming in through internet photo and video.
- The technique uses algorithms to prevent attacks that utilize steganography, where a malicious file is transported within a carrier like a photo or video file.
- The new technique could prevent sensitive data from being extracted, or malicious code from being run on a server once it gets there.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.