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Epidemic Spreading in Technological Networks

Leveille, Jasmin

HPL-2002-287

Keyword(s): computer security; viruses; worms; infection models; scale-free networks; small world networks; epidemiology; BICAS

Abstract: Recent computer worms pose a major threat to large computer networks, and it is a general belief that understanding their means of propagation will help to devise efficient control strategies. This dissertation proposes a new epidemiological model to account for particular characteristics of computer worm epidemics. This new model, termed the Progressive Susceptible- Infected-Detected-Removed (PSIDR) epidemiological model, incorporates new aspects related to the availability of antivirus signatures, to the existence of direct immunization, and to the presence of a curing phase. Various costs are incorporated in the model, which allow us to determine the best strategies to fight worms. The model undergoes an extensive series of validation tests, its properties being evaluated mostly numerically. The model shows good agreement with empirical data. The paper then investigates current response strategies as well as the effect of virus throttling. The model yields both practical recommendations and new insights about the observed low prevalence of worms over the Internet.

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