Thanks to funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), MIT Researchers are now working to create a self-healing, hyper-secure cloud.

As we become more and more dependent on remote storage, maintaining the security and integrity of our digital assets is increasingly important. With this in mind, fighting against hackers is fast becoming a top priority, which is exactly why DARPA, a subset of the US Department of Defense, is embracing MIT’s research.

Using artificial intelligence, the future infrastructure would recognize attacks and resolve them without taking the system offline. Not only would this push for more uptime (keeping users connected), it could also reduce costs and create a machine that learns from attacks to become stronger over time. Hopefully, this won’t lead us to an indestructible Skynet-like computer overlord, but for the moment it sounds amazing.

From the announcement:

Typically, cyber attacks force the shutdown of the entire infiltrated system, regardless of whether the attack is on a personal computer, a business website or an entire network. While the shutdown prevents the virus from spreading, it effectively disables the underlying infrastructure until cleanup is complete.

Professor Martin Rinard, a principal investigator at CSAIL and leader of the Cloud Intrusion Detection and Repair project, and his team of researchers aim to develop a smart, self-healing cloud computing infrastructure that would be able to identify the nature of an attack and then, essentially, fix itself.

Professor Rinard explained in the release that “much like the human body has a monitoring system that can detect when everything is running normally, our hypothesis is that a successful attack appears as an anomaly in the normal operating activity of the system. By observing the execution of a ‘normal’ cloud system we’re going to the heart of what we want to preserve about the system, which should hopefully keep the cloud safe from attack.”

The goal of all this research is to create a cloud that will survive an attack and keep operating without any problems. While the results of this research won’t be available any time soon, this sort of advance doesn’t lie too far ahead in our future.

What role should the Gov play in this sort of project?