Feature stories | Technology & innovation

Siberian scientists create “immune system” for computers

27 Jul '16
Scientists in the Siberian city of Tomsk have developed an artificial intelligence system that is said to be able to use its own “brain” to pinpoint malware without relying on third-party antiviral products.

The system, called “Adaptive Immunity for OS (AIOS),” is also reported to be smart enough to identify the maker of a virus by looking into its programming code. Researchers at the Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio Electronics (TUSUR) want to prove that sometimes it’s the very IT security companies we expect to buy virus protection from that create viruses.

According to analysts, in Russia most users spend up to a hundred dollars a year on their computer protection. New viruses that threaten our computers’ “health” pop up basically every month—evolving, self learning, and changing their “behavior.”

“Our polls have shown that 65% of users polled don’t trust the existing antiviral solutions because of a reported lack of transparency in their operation. The security software can access all areas in the computer and external data carriers, which means accessing our personal data,” said Evgeny Garin, the head of TUSUR’s intellectual property department.

Most of the popular antiviral solutions we use cannot recognize malware except the viruses that are already in their libraries, and therefore require regular updates. Until certain malware is found and registered in databases, it remains unnoticed.

The AIOS is built around the concept of identifying artificial intelligence elements in software products.

“The algorithms we have developed at TUSUR enable us to analyze programming codes to see if the body of a virus can copy itself and manifest other signs of a self-regulating system similar to a living organism… The software can be likened to a real immune system. A conventional antiviral solution resorts to its maker’s database to get “medicine” for your computer. And what if the database has no remedy for this particular contagion? Your computer dies, as it has no immunity of its own. The AIOS can check programming codes for signs of malware, thus operating as an immune protection system,” Mr. Garin explained.

The developers believe in the future their artificial “immunity” will be able to recognize 100% of viruses. The new system is expected to help the scientists put together a library containing individual semantic “traces” programmers leave when creating malware. This will enable “virus busters” to not only follow the viruses in action and isolate them but also track down the makers of such programs for the law enforcement to take care of them.

“Our ultimate goal is to thwart IT security companies’ scheming to make and unleash viruses in order to incite further user interest in their own antiviral software. Some sort of conspiracy, or agreement, between antiviral solution developers and operating system makers appears likely, we think.”

The Siberian researchers are seeking agreements with the developers of Russian operating systems to build computers with their pre-installed “immunity.” This is expected to protect end users against not only viruses but also unscrupulous IT security players, and spare the users the burden of spending on system updates on an annual basis.

The developers believe with the adaptive “immunity” domestic operating systems will be able to compete with the market flagships like Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS.

The AIOS project “has already been brought to the attention of several potential investors,” the source said.
Oleg Kouzbit, managing editor: “I’m glad you join us here and take The Bridge walk for Marchmont’s weekly review of the Russian regions’ innovative present and future. Stay close and you’ll find out more of how Russia is bridging the existing gap between its researchers and businesses.”
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Locations: Tomsk

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