Safety in numbers -- a cloud-based immune system for computers

January 27, 2010

A new approach for managing bugs in computer software has been developed by a team led by Prof. George Candea at EPFL. The latest version of Dimmunix, available for free download, enables entire networks of computers to cooperate in order to collectively avoid the manifestations of bugs in software.

A new IT tool, developed by the Dependable Systems Lab at EPFL in Switzerland, called "Dimmunix," enables programs to avoid future recurrences of bugs without any assistance from users or programmers.

The approach, termed "failure immunity," starts working the first time a bug occurs - it saves a signature of the bug, then observes how the computer reacts, and records a trace. When the bug is about to manifest again, Dimmunix uses these traces to rec-ognize the bug and automatically alters the execution so the program continues to run smooth-ly. With Dimmunix, your Web browser learns how to avoid freezing a second time when bugs associated with, for example, plug-ins occur. Going a step further, the latest version uses cloud to take advantage of networks and thereby inoculating entire communities of computers.

"Dimmunix could be compared to a human . Once the body is infected, its immune system develops antibodies. Subsequently, when the system encounters the same pathogen once again, the body recognizes it and knows how to effectively fight the ill-ness," explains George Candea, director of Dependable Systems Lab, where the new tool has been developed. The young Romanian professor received his PhD in from Stanford University in 2005 and his BS (1997) and MEng (1998) in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The latest version, released online at the end of December (, leverag-es the network. Based on the principle of cloud computing, all computers participating in the Dimmunix application community benefit from vaccines automatically produced whenever the first manifestation of a given bug within that community. This new version of Dimmunix is able to safely protect programs from bugs, even in un-trusted environments such as the In-ternet.

For the moment meant primarily for computer programmers, Dimmunix works for all widely-used programs used by private individuals and by companies. It is useful for programs written in Java and C/C++; it has been demonstrated on real software systems (JBoss, MySQL, Acti-veMQ, Apache, httpd, JDBC, Java JDK, and Limewire).

Explore further: Got bugs? New project lets real computer users gang up on software bugs

More information: Lab website:

Related Stories

Software Tool Plugs Security Leaks

August 1, 2007

Often when you make an Internet transaction, symbols on the Web page assure you that your transaction will be secure and that private information about you, such as passwords, bank account or credit card numbers, will not ...

Software 'Chipper' Speeds Debugging

October 1, 2007

Computer scientists at UC Davis have developed a technique to speed up program debugging by automatically "chipping" the software into smaller pieces so that bugs can be isolated more easily.

Code breakthrough delivers safer computing

September 25, 2009

( -- Computer researchers at UNSW and NICTA have achieved a breakthrough in software which will deliver significant increases in security and reliability and has the potential to be a major commercialisation success.

Recommended for you

Glider pilots aim for the stratosphere

November 20, 2015

Talk about serendipity. Einar Enevoldson was strolling past a scientist's office in 1991 when he noticed a freshly printed image tacked to the wall. He was thunderstruck; it showed faint particles in the sky that proved something ...

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
How much does this slow down the operation of the system?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.