What Biology Can Teach Us About Security

David Evans

Johns Hopkins University
Information Security Institute
14 November 2003


Nature provides a strong existence proof that complex, robust behavior can be produced from remarkably simple programs. Although nearly all species become extinct, those that survive manage to do so in a hostile environment, competing for limited resources and facing predators and parasites evolving against them.

This talk will present some observations about how security problems faced by natural systems and their solutions, with a focus on programming. Our research in swarm computing explores programming models that provide intrinsic robustness and adaptability by describing programs that produce desired functionality through local interactions. Our simple programming model abstracts biological cells as entities that can change state, diffuse chemicals, sense properties of their surroundings, and divide. This talk will describe our programming model and simulator, and report on preliminary experimental results illustrating the robustness of programs constructed using this approach.

Slides: PPT (Warning: 35MB)