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Defending against the propagation of active worms
Active worms propagate across networks by employing the various target discovery techniques. The significance of target discovery techniques in shaping a worm’s propagation characteristics is derived from the life cycle of a worm. The various target discovery techniques that could be employed by active worms are discussed. It is anticipated that future active worms would employ multiple target discovery techniques simultaneously to greatly accelerate their propagation. To accelerate a worm’s propagation, the slow start phase in the worm’s propagation must be shortened by letting the worm infect the first certain percentage of susceptible hosts as soon as possible. Strategies that future active worms might employ to shorten the slow start phase in their propagation are studied. Their respective cost-effectiveness is assessed. A novel active defense mechanism is proposed, which could be an emerging solution to the active worm problem. Our major contributions in this article are first, we found the combination of target discovery techniques that can best accelerate the propagation of active worms; second, we proposed several strategies to shorten a worm’s slow start phase in its propagation and found the cost-effective hit-list size and average size of internally generated target lists; third, we proposed a novel active defense mechanism and evaluated its effectiveness; and fourth, we proposed three novel discrete time deterministic propagation models of active worms.