IBM aims to wipe out viruses

Researchers at IBM are working on a new system that will allow computers to automatically detect new viruses and distribute their antidotes worldwide.

CNET News staff
2 min read
Imagine a world where every time someone caught a new virus, a doctor would immediately find it, learn how to kill it, and then automatically inoculate everyone on the planet.

That scenario is science fiction when it comes to biological viruses. But researchers at the IBM Watson Research Lab are working on a new system for networks that will not only allow computers to automatically detect new and undiagnosed viruses but also distribute their antidotes throughout the world.

With new computer viruses emerging constantly and proliferating at an unprecedented pace thanks to the Internet, there will come a time when computer virus fighters won't be able to keep up, according to Dr. Steve White, a virus expert with IBM. With six new viruses already being created every day, White believes that number could easily rise into the double or triple digits.

That's why IBM is working to develop an "Immune System for Cyberspace," which will automatically detect new viruses and then distribute a cure, White said. The system won't be available for another year, but it already is working in the lab, he added.

IBM's system is supposed to work the same way the human immune system works to combat viruses, White said. First, the antivirus software will automatically detect anything that looks like a new virus. The software will then collect and save the suspicious code and ship it off to the IBM lab.

Once there, it will undergo computerized analysis using a form of artificial intelligence to figure out how to detect and, of course, remove the virus. The fix is then sent back not only to the computer that found the virus but also to all the computers logged onto the Internet.

The idea is that everyone connected will have the fix before they even know they have the virus, White said.

"Within a few minutes of your computer's discovery of this virus, the whole world's immune."