Parasitic Computing

Parasitic computing is an example of a potential technology that could be viewed simultaneously as a threat or healthy addition to the online universe. On the Internet, reliable communication is guaranteed by a standard set of protocols, used by all computers. These protocols can be exploited to compute with the communication infrastructure, transforming the Internet into a distributed computer in which servers unwittingly perform computation on behalf of a remote node. In this model, one machine forces target computers to solve a piece of a complex computational problem merely by engaging them in standard communication.

Parasitic computing raises important questions about the ownership of the resources connected to the Internet and challenges current computing paradigms. The purpose of our work it to raise awareness of the existence of these issues, before they could be exploited. By publishing our work we wish to bring the Internet's various existing vulnerabilities to the attention of both the scientific community and the society at large, so that the ethical, legal and scientific ramifications raised by it can be resolved.

Our implementation of parasitic computing is not efficient. If it is made efficient, it could offer unlimited computational power. How should it be dealt with then? Should it be allowed under controlled circumstances? These are issues that the community must address shortly. On our side we are currently developing SNORT rules to catch such activity. We assume our publication of this has gotten others involved. There are issues that the community must address shortly.

Before you get worried about it, please look up the paper, and consult our FAQ.


Other documentation

Echoes of our work

Last modified: Wed May 22 08:22:47 EST 2002