The digital equivalent of a twitching curtain and a timely phone call could help improve cyber security online.
The US Department of Energy has developed new security software that it likens to crime-fighting busy-bodies Neighbourhood Watch.
The programme allows cyber security defence systems to communicate when attacked and transmit that information to other systems in the hope of strengthening security all round.
Millions of attacks annually
Department of Energy laboratories fight off "millions" of cyber attacks every year, but a near real-time dialogue between the division about the hostile activity has never existed – until now.
"The Federated Model for Cyber Security acts as a virtual neighbourhood watch program. If one institution is attacked, secure and timely communication to others in the Federation will aide in protecting them from that same attack through active response," said cyber security officer Michael Skwarek.
Currently, the program is capable of transmitting information regarding hostile IP addresses and domain names, and will soon be able to share hostile email address and web URLs to others in the Federation. In cyber attacks, every second counts and the quicker that information can be securely shared, the better chance other systems have of fighting off similar attacks.
"History has shown that hostile activity is often targeted at more than one location, and having our defenses ready and armed will assist greatly." Skwarek said.
A recent co-ordinated wave of cyber attacks targeted government and commercial websites in South Korea and the USA.
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