Can biology lessons help in cybersecurity?

Tuesday - 12/21/2010, 3:16pm EST

Ken Gabriel, Deputy Director, DARPA

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is using the lessons of biology to think about how to do cybersecurity.

A new program called "CRASH" is looking at how to make computers resistant to viruses and malware on their own, rather than relying on their operating systems or antivirus software.

DARPA Deputy Director Ken Gabriel said the program evolved out of a workshop DARPA sponsored to bring together cybersecurity experts and infectious disease biologists. Gabriel spoke at a security forum sponsored by The Atlantic and Government Executive last week.

He said cybersecurity has to be fundamentally rethought, because the current software-based methods we use to counter attacks won't work forever. He also said the complexity of security software has had to grow almost exponentially more complex over the past 20 years just to keep up with all the threats, while a brand-new malware program can still be written with just a few hundred lines of computer code.