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Swiss computing lab offers free bug-immunity tool

Clouds, browsers can self-debug without help, says prof

Application security programs and practises

Federal boffins in Switzerland say they have developed a new, freely-downloadable tool which acts as an "immune system" to fight bugs in cloud software.

The software, developed in the Dependable Systems lab at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is called "Dimmunix". Its developers, led by lab chief George Candea (originally from Romania but with computer-science degrees from MIT and Stanford) say it has been successfully tested on systems including JBoss, MySQL, Apache, Limewire and others.

"Dimmunix could be compared to a human immune system," says Candea. "Once the body is infected, its immune system develops antibodies. Subsequently, when the immune system encounters the same pathogen once again, the body recognizes it and knows how to effectively fight the illness."

According to an EPFL statement:

"Dimmunix" enables programs to avoid future recurrences of bugs without any assistance from users or programmers. The approach, termed "failure immunity," starts working the first time a bug occurs - it saves a signature of the bug, then observes how the computer reacts, and records a trace. When the bug is about to manifest again, Dimmunix uses these traces to recognize the bug and automatically alters the execution so the program continues to run smoothly.

With Dimmunix, your Web browser learns how to avoid freezing a second time when bugs associated with, for example, plug-ins occur. Going a step further, the latest version uses cloud computing technology to take advantage of networks and thereby inoculating entire communities of computers.

Candea says that Dimmunix is "for the moment meant primarily for computer programmers" as opposed to bonehead users, and suggests that it is "useful for programs written in Java and C/C++".

More information, and the download, can be found here. ®

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