When Ants Attack: Security Issues for Stigmergic Systems

Weilin Zhong and David Evans
Submitted to The International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN 2002)
7 December 2001


Inspired by biology, stigmergic systems solve global problems by using indirect communication mediated by an environment. Because they are localized and dynamic, stigmergic systems can produce complex distributed systems that are self-organizing, robust and adaptive. Properties of stigmergic systems raise new security concerns and opportunities. Indirect communication makes systems more vulnerable in an open and hostile environment, but also presents opportunities for resilient algorithms without the need for expensive cryptographic mechanisms. In this paper we use AntNet, an adaptive routing algorithm inspired by biological ant foraging, to explore some of the security issues for stigmergic systems. We identify possible attacks and analyze and report on results from simulation experiments. We propose a lightweight mechanism for defending against these attacks and evaluate its effectiveness.

Keywords: stigmergy, ant routing, security, swarm computing, attack models, secure routing protocols

Complete Paper (20 pages, double spaced) (PDF, PS)

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CS 655 David Evans - Publications
University of Virginia
Department of Computer Science
David Evans