Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Computer Science

First Advisor

Richard Y. Han

Second Advisor

Kenneth M. Anderson

Third Advisor

Douglas C. Sicker

Abstract

The objective of this research was to discover and define the characteristics a benevolent computer worm would have in order to reduce the risks of such a tool as a method to combat against computer security threats. Prominent malicious and benevolent computer worms were studied as well as the ethical and legal aspects of benevolent worms. A set of desired characteristics for a benevolent worm framework, as well as how those characteristics help to mitigate risk, was developed. A benevolent worm was created and tested in an environment with exploitable systems to demonstrate the feasibility of using a benevolent worm to patch and protect systems without causing excessive consumption of network resources and to provide accountability through logs. The conclusion reached was that it was feasible to construct a benevolent worm such that the benefits to the community (or network) as a whole in securing it outweighed the risks.

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