While we're used to seeing Hollywood depict hacking and computer access as some sort of 3D world to be explored, whether it's in Tron, or Jurassic Park, those seemingly ridiculous scenarios might actually be closer to computer security of the future than we might think.
Traditionally, security officials spend their time looking through reams of IP addresses for strange activity, or unfamiliar ones attempting to access the network. This is because ultimately, humans are still a lot better than automated anti-hacking tools. At the Lincoln Laboratory in Massachusetts however, a new system for protecting a network has been developed, where these stale lists of information are converted into a navigable 3D world, through use of the Unity engine.
Security analysts can then teleport around the 3D world, investigating these now far more lifelike intrusion attempts, blocking or quarantining them as they see fit. If one of the automated systems needs a clarification by an admin, it can flag up an area in flashing red, or set off a virtual fire, drawing the attention of analysts. Teams can also work together more fluidly, since it's far easier to coordinate something tangible like a 3D avatar, than it is with bland lines of code.
Speaking with NewScientist, MIT's Jeremy Kepner said this new system could allow for security professionals to be far more efficient and to deal with more data within a shorter period of time. It's all about the interpretation in the game engine. “The moment I add all this context to the environment – grass, gravel, cars and buildings – it turns out that the amount of information we can push to the analysts is far greater,” he says.
KitGuru Says: With this in mind, here's my question. In a few years to come, will we see professional gamers, digital badasses that can slay humans online without breaking a sweat, end up as virtual security guards? Will they be the grunts, acting as a first line of defence for corporate servers?