Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
The Internet

Parasitic Computing 198

b0r0din writes: "CNN has this article about a way to force computers to solve complex computational problem using the checksum algorithm used by the TCP/IP protocol. For more technical details, see their website." You probably thought learning TCP/IP was useless. No! You can use it to make an extremely inefficient computer...
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Parasitic Computing

Comments Filter:
  • ...as if viruses and SPAM didn't take up enough bandwidth.
  • I have one of those -- it's running Windows ME.
    • Goddamnit! Stop the windows bashing! First of all, don't run ME damnit! Win98 SE is so much more stable and fast. Second of all, stop bashing without reasons! Give me some proof for why you "hate M$!" Jesus, if you're gonna bash windows at least point out something that sucks without saying "Bi11 Gatez sux and M$ sux and I'm not buying any of theyre cr@p".
      • Dude...It was a joke.
      • 2 words for ya, De and Caff, De-Caff... And he does have a good point, windows does sucks, as well as Bill gates and thier prissy cheerleader Steve Balmer. Need more facts? Goto www.microsoft.com! :)
      • I got a PII 350 / 256 Mo Ram.

        Can you tell me :

        1/ Why it cannot stay online for more than 2 days
        (because Network stack has a memory leak the size of Indiana and it eats up all my 256 Mo)

        2/ why, after a fresh start, I only have 160 Mo free ? (hmmm ! because...I start too much Dll ?)

        3/ Why, everytime I close an app, I have to use Memturbo (c) to free the memory it was occupying ?

        Ok This was my "Bad MEmory Windows"

        I propose we meet tomorow to speak about Inerface, and the day after on Filesystem ! 8)

        This Post AutoModerated -1 (Offtopic) +4 (NiceGuy)

  • to do with their time?

    Christ, hiring a few hundred thousand third-worlders and teaching them to use an abacus would be faster.

    Or course, the globalization protestors would never go for it... carry on then.
    • Don't they have anything better to do with their time?

      Uh,... do you read slashdot???

      [Read any of the ascii art posts, or X is dying, or Portman/Grits, and tell me that there aren't plenty of other less worthwhile ways to consumes one's time...]

      And besides, like most research, this isn't for practical purposes (yet). It is for proof of theory. And someday something like this would be efficient enough to bother with...

  • Legality? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silicon_synapse ( 145470 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @07:04PM (#2232667)
    Such online piracy does not violate the security of hapless servers, using only areas specifically earmarked for public access, according to the researchers.

    But it could slow the machines down by engaging them in mindless conversation while they unwittingly work for their remote master, Barabasi said.

    Isn't this theft of resources? The researchers are literally stealing bandwidth and clock cycles. Maybe it's just me, but this seems very ethically wrong. I wonder if an IDS or firewall can be configured to protect against such leeching. Any lawyers or firewall experts in the house?
    • Don't worry, if it isn't illegal yet, it soon will be. No one can steal from the big corporations of America and get away with it.
    • Re:Legality? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 )
      I wonder if an IDS or firewall can be configured to protect against such leeching

      IANAFE (I am not a firewall expert), but the only way I could think of would be to always ignore the checksum so they always get a connection and thus it would screw up their results. Otherwise it's indistinguishable from normal traffic, it's just bad traffic. Maybe the firewall could start dropping packets after X number of bad checksum packets?
      • Perhaps you're right (hope not), but wouldn't that in effect make TCP/IP cease to be a reliable protocol? Doesn't seem like a viable solution.
      • No, because you could set the threash of 3 or 4 from the same IP and that would do it. 99.99999% of traffic would get through fine. I looked once at some TCP statistics from a network printer at my college once and over the last 5 years it had only recieved 4 bad packets. This was just plain old cat 5. Granted they were only to that printer but it was used almost constantly. The checksum isn't computed unless the destination is correct so no broadcast packets would be counted but if i remember right the good packet count was around a million.
      • I wonder if an IDS or firewall can be configured to protect against such leeching

        or sabotage the results. Given these tidbits from the papers:

        As expected and by design, incorrect solu-tions do not generate responses from the web server.

        Our technique does not receive a positive acknowledgement that a solution is invalid because an invalid solution is dropped by TCP. Consequently, there is a possibility of false negatives, cases in which a correct solution is not returned

        ... because this technique exploits the TCP checksum, it circumvents the function the checksum provides. The TCP checksum catches errors that are not caught in the checks provided by the transport layer, such as errors in intermediate routers and the end points

        The actual number of TCP checksum failures depends on the communication path, message data, and other factors.

        Of course, it is very nice that they note:

        parasitic computing represents an advanced but ethically challenging alternative for cluster computing, as it uses resources without the consent of the computer's owner.

        Aren't there some things that would be better left untouched?

        - - -
        Radio Free Nation [radiofreenation.com]
        an indepedant news site based on Slash Code

    • Re:Legality? (Score:2, Informative)

      by 4mn0t1337 ( 446316 )
      Well, if you open up a service on a machine, you open it up to the world. It is publicly available. The system they devised isn't doing anything other than using the bandwidth and clock cycles that you have opened up.

      Just like people dialing a wrong number are stealing your time and resources. But part of the deal in having a phone that other peopls can call you on is that OTHER PEOPLE CAN CALL YOU.

      • But that resource is made available for a specific use. I can't think of a suitable analogy, but clearly there's something wrong here. It may not be illegal (depends how much you can spend on a lawyer or how many laws you can afford to buy), but in my view it is definately unethical. It probably shouldn't be legislated, but it at least shouldn't be done out of respect.
        • Um ya... and it should be illegal for phone solicitors to call me, because that isn't the use I intend when I pay my phone bill every month...
        • Re:Legality? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by 4mn0t1337 ( 446316 )
          But that resource is made available for a specific use.

          And that is what the study did.

          I think the wrong phone call analogy is correct. You open up a service and *have* to expect bad/malformed/incorrect data in addition to the good/expected/desired data. You can't get a phone service and say that you only want "desired calls" to come in. Have to take the good with the bad.

          Now, if someone had the *intent* of causing and interruption in service or to harass you by *intentionally* dialing your number (or making a call to a service on your machine) then that is another issue.

          All of this being said, I do think this is a little intrusive, and don't like the idea (other than it is cool that it possible), but I don't think there is much ground for any kind of legal complaint.
          Oh, yeah: IANAL.

        • One analogy: Using a McDonald's bathroom without buying any food.
        • Buying double glazing, timesharing an overpriced holidy apartment, or, even contributing to the Veterins Association wasn't what I had in mind when I installed my phone.

          But will those b*st*rd* ( and b*tch*s) stop calling me, or, even get of the line --- NO.

          Can I sue them for misuse of resources?

          • IANAL, but actually, if they continue to call you after you've clearly stated "don't call me", then that's harrassment. Even religious organisations have been sued for that.
      • Just like people dialing a wrong number are stealing your time and resources. But part of the deal in having a phone that other peopls can call you on is that OTHER PEOPLE CAN CALL YOU.

        But the people dialing the wrong number are doing it unintentionally. These folks are intentionally using my resources.

        It is one thing to waste my resources do to an honest mistake. It is another to intentionally do this. Those are called crank calls (or telemarketers).

        Steve M

        • Those are called crank calls (or telemarketers).

          Prank calls and telemarketing are not illegal, unless it's harassing (calling multiple times).

          -- iCEBaLM
      • Just like people dialing a wrong number are stealing your time and resources. But part of the deal in having a phone that other peopls can call you on is that OTHER PEOPLE CAN CALL YOU.

        Poor analogy.
        If someone calls your number once or twice by accident then its OK. Several thousand times, on purpose, for their gain.... it becomes harrasment.

        The technique this article is talking about won't cause just 'a few' stray packets. It would have to send a LOT of bogus packets. I don't know the technical details, but if they spread it out evenly enough that each machine only had to deal with a very small number of seemly stray packets, they could probably get away with it. Especially if all their target/host machines were high-traffic servers to begin with.
        • Poor analogy. If someone calls your number once or twice by accident then its OK. Several thousand times, on purpose, for their gain.... it becomes harrasment.

          Actually, the analogy still holds. The issue at first is if *any* use of bandwidth or processor cycles is a misapporiation. I think, like a phone call, it is not.

          HOWEVER, and some point "any" crosses the line into "too much" at which point you *are* talking about harrasment.

          The pdf document states that there are 2^n packets that need to be sent out, for a n-varriable SAT problem. So that *could* add up to a lot.

          The paper does spell out that all the systems (page 4, paragraph 2)that participated did so *unknowingly*.

    • It's probably about as legal as telemarketing, which also wastes your time and resources.

      However, it's becoming harder to do legally in more and more states.
    • Although this is a really neat implementation, I'd have ot say the authors of the paper on 'Parasitic Computing' were over-reaching when they said:
      Parasitic computing raises important questions about the ownership of the resources connected to the Internet and challenges current computing paradigms.
      Granted it's a neat implementation, and using communication protocols to evaluate mathematics is vary creative, but what questions does it really raise about resource ownership? Vary simply, No. They're using publicly agailable services for a new and creative (not illegal) purpose. It would only become both illegal and unethical is their use had the effect of a denial-of-service attack. The authors of the paper were trying to inflate the importance of their work by tying it into the many and varied discussions of intelectual (property) and physical resources on the net. It's a shame that they took this approach because their research stands alone without such pandering which serves only to diminish the appeal of their work.

      • I don't think we're going to have to worry about ethical or legal implications, simply because this is too expensive and too complex. Just buy yourself a cheapo duron, or start a real DC project and make some cool stats so all the stats freaks will join.

        Note, I haven't read the pdf's yet, so I don't know how well this type of computing scales, or how much power is available.
  • Heh heh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Cutriss ( 262920 )
    Wow! Could you imagine a Beowulf cluster choking on one of these?
  • "online piracy", "parasitic computing", "unwittingly work for their remote master"

    You'd think they were talking about Code Red.
  • This does raise a lot of questions. I'd say it falls somewhere in the big grey area between unethical and illegal a lot closer towards the unethical, so long as there is no visible impact on the host system, but that's just me.

    I don't think we'll be having to worry about it becoming endemic anytime soon, as it appears the type of problem that can be solved is somewhat limited.
    • most NICs do the checksum using hardware, not the cpu... so it probably wouldn't be visable to the system at all.
      • True, BUT there's still the issue of bandwidth. It's not much, but it can add up. Besides, many hosts charge by the ammount of bandwidth used by a site. In such a case, the webmaster would be losing money as a result of the parasites. Granted it's a miniscule ammount, but perhaps enough to make it illegal. Whatever the case, it's still just wrong. (because I said so, that's why)
  • This is EXACTLY why I disable checksumming on all my serevrs. I work for an R&D company, I sure as hell wouldnt want another R&D using our servers to solve their problems.

    Poepele used to think Iw sa paranoid, but now I have the proof.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The network is the computer
  • by phoenix_orb ( 469019 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @07:15PM (#2232722)
    This will make an EXTREMLY slow computer, and if anyone out there knows anything about routing (which I am sure you do :) The time it would take to recieve and compile all of the data would take longer and require more bandwith than would be viable on the economy of scale.

    Example --- need to send 4,000,000 packets out and recieve the TCP packet back.

    To do this with any speed, and also to not lose a fair majority of packets, you have to have a huge backhaul.. (T-3, OC3 or larger) TCP will not continue sending packet so you will loses them. Cost for large backhaul. $4800 month, (as by what my company chages..)

    4,800 x 12 $57,600

    So for one year of a huge pipe to the net you will be paying 57,600 (through my provider)

    This still will not fix latent packets that never get back to the user, or any other problems.. (such as someone on your network running bearshare and eating all of your bandwidth)

    Now lets look at the amount of money used for that large amount of bandwidth.

    $57,600 for the amount we could have spent on that line in one year we can build a beowulf cluster with 30 nodes (and that is being very liberal on the cost of the nodes)

    Now, looking at the article that I read, it seems as if the computing style using TCP/IP is very very ineffiecint.

    Personally, for the amount needed to make this work, on the scale of actually getting any real work done, I would much rather build a Athlon Beowulf cluster.

    This looks like in reality this could only be implimented in the real world as a new type of DOS attack.

    • Yeah, it's inefficient. That's not the point.
    • i think you are exaggerating a bit...

      to send 4,000,000 packets that are 50 bits each is 200,000,000 bits ~ 25MB

      i can send that out in a few minutes on ADSL even.

      don't get me wrong, this is a retarded idea. it is NOT an exploit, it is NOT intelligent.

      odds are it is $5000 research grant that a couple college kids got for beer money. i got 2 of them to make a web site that could figure out the average of a set of numbers, so they aren't that hard to come by... and oh did i drink well that year.
    • I didn't register for the article but
      the idea would be cool if you sent out
      all those packages but only recieved the
      correct answer back - voila, quantum computing!

      How would you make sure only the correct answer
      created a correct checksum, and when you get it
      how do you know what the question was? But the good part might be that the host only needs to spit out a bunch of numbers without doing any computations.

    • Calculating how inefficient such a computer would be is possible, but why? Especially using an inefficient carbon-based CPU. The time it would take to recieve and compile all of the data would take longer and require more bandwith than would be viable on that economy of scale.
  • Could figure out Pi to the umpteenth trillionth decimal place, A program that could run forever (or as long as TCP/IP was around anyway) stealing just a tiny fraction of CPU time from every computer it contacted.. Sort of like the guy who wrote the code at the bank to take 1/1000th of a cent out of each transaction, nobody would notice .... but it is still wrong...Just one more reason to be completely paranoid!!
  • wouldn't that be fun?

    "Oh yeah? I have a multi homed gigabit 486!"
  • It appears that people can still puplish their findings and not get sued for violation of some law, I wonder if the group who developed TCP/IP will sue these guys now because they "Violated" some law or something.
  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @07:28PM (#2232775) Homepage
    Hey, I could turn CodeRed into a SETI@Home client!
    • Yeah thats about what I thought, why hasn't someone turned all those code red rooted boxes into D.net clients? Seems like that could move someone into the lead fairly quickly, the minimum requirements for the susceptible OS make for good crypto cracking machines.

      But what do you do so that you get credit for it without getting blamed for the worm?

      • Actualy there is a virus out there that does this all be it very ineffeciantly. It looks for open shares on 9x systems named "C" and loads dnet on the system. I actualy removed this from a users system at work yesterday.

        http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.hll w.bymer.html

        I intercepted it before it ran so I didn't get a chance to check the stats. Thought about it later thought.

        Oh and feel free to check my DNet stats for rich@tekkie.org. I am about to hit my millionth RC5 block by the end of the month.

  • This particular technique will likely not become commonplace because the effort to make it work is far greater than the possible computational return.

    True, but it could be modified and used to launch a DOS attack on a specific server, couldn't it?

  • Those in Central, Mountain & further timezones might be able to catch it later today, or listen to it tomorrow on the ATC [npr.org] web site.
  • Its seems silly except maybe to point out that it can be done. Just about any modern computer can checksum data faster than it can read the data from main memory. By the time the nic has pulled the data from main memory the CPU could have already gotten an answer.
  • by adadun ( 267785 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @07:41PM (#2232833) Homepage
    ICMP echo packets (ping packets) also includes a checksum. By using the ICMP checksum instead of the TCP checksum, almost every computer connected to the Internet could be used for computation, not only web servers.
  • by Quikah ( 14419 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @07:44PM (#2232845)
    You could write a DeCSS client to find a decryption key by sending the computations out to the MPAA's servers. :)
  • But variations could be engineered to make online piracy much more efficient, he cautioned.

    Uh, oh, now the RIAA, MPAA, and any other ??AA organizations will want to ban TCP/IP!

    Does this mean the Internet is in violation of the DMCA?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @07:49PM (#2232854)
    I Have DONE THIS! I Did it years ago (steal cpu cycles remotely for local computational tasks in a distributed network manner without having account priveledges on any target systems)

    Many unitversities in the 1980s used the MERIT network and many still do.

    A feture of MERIT allows logging onto any other system from another system and during a login process a free command line feature allows use of the CALC calculator line command.

    This exotic command would only work for a while before they severed the line after about two minutes, unless you finally logged in validly so they could charge you the 9600 baud access fees.

    The calculator command was great. It allowed a truly dumb terminal to do simple math functions. Other 1980's terminals such as Liberty Freedom Ones and other terminals have built in desk calculators modes.

    You can use the calculator function to do multiplication and other operations without owning a system account. It even worked during modem connections and tou could tie up several connections by "hopping" during a login.

    I created tools to use the math functions of the MERIT network to perform computations FOR FREE.

    Merit is a private, non-profit corporation, governed by thirteen of Michigan's four-year publicly supported universities. In addition to the thirteen members there are 230 affiliates with a combined total of 425 dedicated network attachments from 398 separate locations. Merit affiliates include: 85 Colleges and universities,25 Community colleges ,117 K-12 schools or school districts , 22 Local, state, and federal government agencies ,16 Healthcare organizations , 111 Libraries , 21 Other non-profit organizations ,28 Businesses . Most were Amdahl mainframes (IBM clones).

    Stealing free cpu cycles of innocent target machines as a parasite to perform complex computational tasks of a larger state machine, using network protocols is fun, especially if distributed across multiple systems and limitless.

    I proudly did it first in the early 1980s.

    (I have a life though and achieved many other more useful things by the way)


    • Was this actually more efficient than just doing the calculations on your own system? If you were on a dumb terminal, i might understand the benefit, but you say you wrote a program to hop from one connection to another -- wasn't all this overhead more computationally intensive (even just for your own system) than doing the math yourself?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I disagree. I used an apple II.

        Admittedly the 6502 chip is not that shabby even at 1 Mhz. Steve Wozniak wrote some math routines for floating point and also the Sweet16 math libraries. But serial modem IO was probably provably less expesive than 64 bit floating point precision math. The year was 1982. The IBM PC had not even shipped yet, and even when it did it was only 64K RAM and cassette.

        There was a minor round trip delay, and I bet local floating point math might be sligthly faster than using my method, even with hopping between 4 systems round robin because of the delays, but what about parallelism?

        But even if you are correct and a 1 Mhz Apple ][ using a 8 bit cpu (same as nintendo years later), was capable of beating the amdahl multimillion dollar mainframe due to initial latency on the time slice, The apple could be free to compute in parallel, thus your assumption is wrong that it was wortheless to do.

        Plus there are some very subtle characteristics worht considering...

        You have to rememember that every hard linefeed, ESPECIALLY during login time, runs for a spit second at ultra high priority. Its a design defect on several systems. Both for timeslice and for priority. It is a shortlived timeslice but is meant to aid in showing "responsiveness" of the system under heavy loads. The theory is that each user is waiting for a cursor action to acknowledge their return.

        It is part of the evil "Coffee Mug" Exploit I discoverred. It would be "infamous" but i never shared it.

        For example, If you rest a coffee mug on the return key of a terminal not logged in, and the terminal is conventionally hooked up to a large minicomputer, even those with completely separate subsystem boxes for all serial IO and packet IO.... YOU WILL DRAG THE SYSTEM TO A CRAWL if the terminal is set to high speed auto keyrepeat.

        A 13 thousand dollar Tektronix 2d Cad terminal hooked to a 19,200 baud serial line would emit hundreds of carriage returns per second, if preset to.

        The system normally syncs on a single or double carraige return to test a table to determine what baud to interpret in autobaud modes of a connecting modem, but this is not why its so slow. These were fixed baud lines. The cpu of the mainframe was slowed because it was trying to give hundreds of high priority time slices to the terminal. One for each return key byte. And because the terminal was not even a logged in user yet, it was running totally as a parasitic system level process with no history to govern its agregate timeslice priority.

        I never disclosed this defect in Primes Primos, and though i was one of only a few private citizens with Prime's Primos source code to every tool and routine in the system, I myself never bothered patching the defect. I did have fun testing other OS's.

        the parasitic "Coffe Mug" was dramatic..... it brought minicomputers and mainframes to their knees.

        But one thing is for certiain, an apple II can use its serial card with so little overhead that using the CALC calculator console command do do long division was provably a useful technique.

        At that time I was busy infiltrating DOD computers, ATT systems, cracking PIN algorithms, and so many other things besides programming that I spent little time having fun with my simple technologies to steal cycles from Merit, other than to prove it conclusively.

        An apple II using ORCA assembler (a macro assembler based on ibm 360 in some ways) could be used to do many things including a 16 bit CCITT CRC without a table lookup in so few lines of code it would blow your mind. (A 6502 can do decrement test and loop branch in one opcode). Therefore I conclude that the original article we are referring to is ludicrous even if the years was 1982 and a apple ii was employed, but i can conclusively state the authors could find nothing lacking in what I divuged in my initial post.

        This CRC article is way off the mark and useless when you consider the overhe3ad for the protocol stacks and the fact that little computation is possible per crc packet of info.

        desingning a computer emulator using nothing more than boolean bit vector math is challenging, I admit, but you might as well buy a box of NAND gates and design a homebrew four bit math calculator just to show it can be done.

        Ahhhh the good old days.....

        But todays fun will be nostalgic history one day too 20 years from now. (writing full DVD decryptors, Macrovision SD2 pattern negators, and other more trendy modern hobby wonders)

        I might not be at my coding peak in another 20 years though, unless medical wonders are created.


  • Three priests are talking to each other how they split the money they get during the service between themselves and the part for the church.

    The first priest says: I draw a line in the middle of the table and throw all the money on the table. Everything left of the line is for me, everything right of the line is for the church.

    The second priest says: I draw a circle in the middle of the table. Everything which lands in the circle is for me, everything which lands outside is for the church.

    The third priest says: I throw all the money in the air. Everything god grabs is for the church, the everything which lands on the floor is for me.

    This project works the same: they send a request to a million webservers, everything which doesn't time out is good for them :-)

  • Ideas, please! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by megaduck ( 250895 ) <dvarvel.hotmail@com> on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @08:02PM (#2232894) Journal

    Most of the posts here have been of two schools:

    1. It's impractical.
    2. It's unethical.

    Both valid points, but I think that it's foolish to dismiss this out of hand. First of all, it's a pretty slick hack. Very inventive, if nothing else. Secondly, it brings up some very interesting questions. Can this ever be made practical? What would it take? Would it be ethical to make it work? Can this be used to augment a DOS attack, or something similar? If so, how do we defend against it?

    Maybe I'm talking out of my ass here. I don't know TCP/IP very well. However, I know that others of you out there really know your stuff. I'd like to hear from you.

    • 1. impractical --

      yes, unavoidable so long as it takes more computational horsepower to generate, send, collect packets and compensate for errors (vast/huge) than it is to generate a TCP checksum (trivial).

      2. unethetical --

      yes, so long as your using someone elses resources without their knowledge or implied consent. if you put up a web server and someone is legitimately accessing your content (perusing/reading articles for example), that's implied consent. if someone decides to use your web server to perform load testing without informing you, that's an unauthorized use/abuse under the law. try this with NYT or Yahoo sometime and see how fast you end up in court.

      no, it cannot be made practical in anything like it's present form. it's not really even clever or slick compared to other (illegal) parasitic uses of computers and network infrastructures. unless we solve the first two points, who go on?

      there, we haven't dismissed it out of hand.
      • Fair enough. However, I already ceded the point that it's both impractical and unethical. That's not what I'm interested in. What really interests me is the security implications of something like this. Are there good defenses against this unauthorized use of your resources? If you turn off checksumming, does that leave you vulnerable to another form of attack?

        We've already decided that this is useless for real computation. What are the other ramifications?

  • Anyone remember Jane from the later books in this series, and the philotic connections?
  • i can't see how making the packet is less computationally intensive than computing the checksum. In the 2-SAT case, they're anyway generating all the 2^n cases, so the complexity is still exponential.
    And another factor is of reliability. What if a packet times out. Not all the packets you send are responded to ... so if that one in a million packets which represents the actual solution times out then all your effort goes down the drain.
  • User agreement: I'll let you access the information on my site at no direct cost to you IF you'll allow me access to your computer (not to exceed specified limitations) in return.

    Click here to agree.
  • piracy? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Such online piracy does not violate the security of hapless servers, using only areas specifically earmarked for public access, according to the researchers.

    Eh, there's that word again, pretty handy word isn't it?

    Piracy: anything you do that someone else doesn't want you to do.

  • Contradiction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by D. Mann ( 86819 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @09:43PM (#2233237) Homepage
    "We are not worried about copycats taking our program," Barabasi said.

    But variations could be engineered to make online piracy much more efficient, he cautioned.

    If it will make piracy more efficient, I'm pretty sure the pirates would be very interested in finding out more about it.

    Hell, in my experience, most pirates would use a modem that belched huge clouds of carbon monoxide and was powered by grinding up kittens in a big hopper if it got them an extra 10k/s on their downloads.
  • Parasitic Computing is a great example of what will happen once machines (or the Internet itself) become intelligent and self-aware. They could use the Internet in ways we could barely guess or understand in order to do data computations, data transportation, or data storage (the only 3 things any living creature needs).
  • To really be useful, you need a longer time to do a more complicated calculation. So:

    1) Create a compeling website that will get people to stick around for a while (free pr0n would probably work).
    2) Put all your pages into frames with a hidden, 0 pixel frame.
    3) Create dynamic pages (JSP/ASP/whatever) that will pipe down JavaScript to the hidden frame with the algorythm that needs to be run.
    4) Let the calculation run while the user browses your site, then POST the results back to the server when it's done.

    This would all be relatively transparent to the user... Of course, if they're all paranoid /. types, they'd probably have JavaScript turned off.
  • by GrEp ( 89884 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `200brc'> on Thursday August 30, 2001 @12:45AM (#2233709) Homepage Journal
    Why not make this a feature? Write an extremely simple virtual machine that would perform calculations as asked. Way smaller than java. Simple enough that you could write a proof that it couldn't try to play outside its sandbox.

    You could give it a small chunk of memory to use, run it at a VERY low priority, and use SSH like transmission where the packets are automaticaly compressed and only a list of certain IPs would be accepted. All you would have to do is download the IPs of the distributed projects you wanted to work on and the virtual machine would accept packets from them. No specific clients to download for each project, and you would get distributed computing easily on all your machines.

    Any projects like this? It would be great to have an always on and client secure distributed computing platform.
  • by Jarvo ( 70205 )
    Finally a 'good' use for a distributed denial of service attack!
  • by Apuleius ( 6901 ) on Thursday August 30, 2001 @01:39AM (#2233780) Journal
    For full effect, use avian transport for the
    TCP/IP packets. And write an interface to this
    so that you can use it for SetiAtHome.
  • This Barabasi guy's an ass. All he does is sensationalist pop-physics crap. Look at his website [nd.edu]. The organization of handclapping [nd.edu] (featured at ABCNews [go.com] and FoxNews [foxnews.com]), sandcastles [nd.edu], and internet topology and attack work [nd.edu] (discussed at Slashdot here [slashdot.org]). This guy just jumps between pop-science subjects and eats up press coverage of his crap.

    Can we stop talking about him now?

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky