Doctor! Doctor! I Think it Could be Malware!

We are all very used to the idea that malware might infect a laptop or an office network, which is why so many businesses are investing in infrastructure and security management and outsourcing many of their security concerns. However, the world in which we live is becoming increasingly digital, with more and more functions being managed by technology – and this opens up a whole new range of vulnerabilities.

For example, in America we are now beginning to see recognition of the damage that could be done by malware to medical equipment. Two large hospitals in the US have begun trialing software that looks to identify malware by way of a machine’s AC power consumption. This option allows malware to be accurately detected – with as much accuracy as a desktop anti virus program – but there is no need to go in and make any changes to the hardware or the software involved. Instead, the system – which has been called ‘WattsUpDoc’ –will scan critical medical equipment for potentially life-threatening malware using only the AC.

In tests, this new system has really come up trumps with success in detecting 94% of known malware and 85% of unknown malware. As a point of comparison, those figures are roughly the same as PC-based security solutions. Of course, there are some challenges to this new project – which was developed by researchers Benjamin Ransford and Denis Foo Kune – probably, the most significant of which is the variation in power consumption between different contemporary computers. However, despite this, ‘WattsUpDoc’ still remains an ingenious way of keeping tabs on potential issues and ensuring that those machines that are particularly hard to patch and difficult to get inside have some sort of effective malware protection that doesn’t require too much variation to introduce.