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‘Space Travel’ may help reduce IT downtime

UT Dallas computer scientists have developed a technique to automatically allow one computer in a virtual network to monitor another for any issue that could cause the monitored computer to malfunction, helping to prevent problems escalating to a point where they cause downtime.

The technique has been dubbed ‘space travel’ because it sends computer data to a world outside its home, and bridges the gap between computer hardware and software systems.

“Space travel might change the daily practice for many services offered virtually for cloud providers and data centers,” said Dr. Zhiqiang Lin, the research team’s leader and an assistant professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

As cloud computing is becoming more popular, new techniques to protect the systems must be developed. Since this type of computing is Internet-based, skilled computer specialists can control the main part of the system virtually – using software to emulate hardware.

Lin and his team programmed space travel to use existing code to gather information in a computer’s memory and automatically transfer it to a secure virtual machine – one that is isolated and protected from outside interference.

One of the key areas that space travel is useful for is in information security.

“You have an exact copy of the operating system of the computer inside the secure virtual machine that a hacker can’t compromise,” Lin said. “Using this machine, then the user or antivirus software can understand what’s happening with the space traveled computer setting off red flags if there is any intrusion.

Previously, software developer had to write such tools manually.

“With our technique, the tools already being used on the computer become part of the defense process,” he said.

www.utdallas.edu

•Date: 21st Sept 2012 • US/World •Type: Article • Topic: ICT continuity

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