Why Can’t the Collective Intelligence the Web Has Be Used for Debunking Malware?

Misc, Privacy Issues

Let me phrase it from the beginning: this article can be categorized into a special topic called “genius (or foolish) idea that can lead to a great (or lousy) startup idea”. So if you’re not into that kind of “thinking” mood, you may want to skip it. Otherwise, if you think you’ve got the guts to make it happen and turn it into a working project that can be sold to those big internet companies after 3 years of operations, some venture capital funding and a lot of sleepless nights, then read on 😉 Learn about the idea of using the collective intelligence for debunking malware.

So what do we have: we have millions of people using popular websites everyday – from the almost 1 billion Facebook users, to the 2 billions (or more) Google searches performed everyday – we can say that there’s a lot of collective intelligence out there.

Security and privacy issues

On the other hand, almost the same users are facing big issues with security and privacy: either they are prone to spreading malware (or being attacked by them), or they are simply hit by viruses. The usual way for those users to protect themselves from those threats is to buy and install some “security software” – I use the word security since it can cover anti-viruses, firewall, antispyware, antimalware and all the upcoming anti-something that may arise later on.

Idea: use the “recaptcha” system for fighting against viruses and malware

So what? The idea is simple: use the same idea behind the “recaptcha” system for fighting against viruses and malwares. Indeed, the “recaptcha” system is a genius tool that makes every internet user contributes to doing some post-OCR work on scanned books: the humans that are asked to enter some captcha word on any internet forms are actually validating some OCR (optical character reading?) on some nice words. At the end of the day, the millions of forms that have been human-read and entered can be used for digitalizing an old book.

So, why can’t we do that for viruses and malware?

After all, most people are using, for example, Google and Facebook on daily basis. Can’t those same people be used to feed some public database of “virus signature”? After all, most computers already come with some anti-virus software: can’t we just setup an add-on to those anti-virus software to feed that public virus database so that Facebook, or Google (or whatever popular website you are visiting) can alert you if they find some of those signatures from your computer when you browse their websites? After all, that same principle of “public database” is already used for maintaining a list of Spammers IP addresses when it comes to managing e-mail servers.

Wouldn’t it be great that, by installing an app on our computer, websites that we visit can authoritatively inform us on corrective actions that we have to take so as to resolve some virus/malware issues we may have on our computer? At the same time, we would also help other users by feeding the same public database. At the end of the day, we would have cleaner computers as well as lesser phishing/spoofing sites that may put our privacy at security breach.

Just thinking out loud. What do you think? Is this something feasible? If not, what would be the obstacles?

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