Computer Virus Epidemiology
“WiFi networks and malware epidemiology,” by Hao Hu, Steven Myers, Vittoria Colizza, and Alessandro Vespignani.
In densely populated urban areas WiFi routers form a tightly interconnected proximity network that can be exploited as a substrate for the spreading of malware able to launch massive fraudulent attacks. In this article, we consider several scenarios for the deployment of malware that spreads over the wireless channel of major urban areas in the US. We develop an epidemiological model that takes into consideration prevalent security flaws on these routers. The spread of such a contagion is simulated on real-world data for georeferenced wireless routers. We uncover a major weakness of WiFi networks in that most of the simulated scenarios show tens of thousands of routers infected in as little as 2 weeks, with the majority of the infections occurring in the first 24–48 h. We indicate possible containment and prevention measures and provide computational estimates for the rate of encrypted routers that would stop the spreading of the epidemics by placing the system below the percolation threshold.
Honestly, I’m not sure I understood most of the article. And I don’t think that their model is all that great. But I like to see these sorts of methods applied to malware and infection rates.
EDITED TO ADD (3/13): Earlier—but free—version of the paper.