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Open Problems in Computer Virus Research

Steve White
Virus Bulletin Conference, Oct 22, 1998, Munich Germany
October 1998

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Over a decade of work on the computer virus problem has resulted in a number of useful scientific and technological achievements. The study of biological epidemiology has been extended to help us understand when and why computer viruses spread. Techniques have been developed to help us estimate the safety and effectiveness of anti-virus technology before it is deployed. Technology for dealing with known viruses has been very successful, and is being extended to deal with previously unknown viruses automatically. Yet there are still important research problems, the solution to any of which significantly improve our ability to deal with the virus problems of the near future. The goal of this paper is to encourage clever people to work on these problems. To this end, we examine several open research problems in the area of protection from computer viruses. For each problem, we review the work that has been done to date, and suggest possible approaches. There is clearly enough work, even in the near term, to keep researchers busy for quite a while. There is every reason to believe that, as software technology evolves over the next century or so, there will plenty of important and interesting new problems that must be solved in this field.

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