Crash-proof computer tactic revealed by UK researchers

Researchers at University College in London say they have developed a "systemic computer" that enables a computer to heal itself.

For a PC user, nothing chills the heart like the "Blue Screen of Death" in Windows. It means the computer has crashed.

Although crashes are as old as computers, some UK researchers may be taking the first steps toward sending blue screens to the same graveyard where 5.25-inch floppy disks are buried.

The boffins at University College in London (UCL) have made something they're calling a "systemic computer" that they say taps into the chaos found in nature to enable a computer to heal itself.

A chief cause of computer crashes, according to the researchers, is the way computers process the instructions in the programs they run. They do that sequentially, a step at a time. Disturb that sequence, and the computer jumps the track and crashes.

That's not how nature works. "Its processes are distributed, decentralized and probabilistic," a computer scientist working on the research, Peter Bentley, told New Scientist.

Nature is also fault tolerant, which is why biological systems can heal themselves, he added.

Fault tolerance, of course, is nothing new to computing. Servers have had it for years. simulate the activity of neurons in the human brain.

Unfortunately, the crash-proof computer being developed by the researchers won't be something rank-and-file computer users will see any time. The clue is in their assessment of the practical applications of the research: it could allow drones to reprogram themselves to cope with combat damage.

Tags: University College London, security, computers

Review: Security firewall distributions

READ THIS ARTICLE
DO NOT SHOW THIS BOX AGAIN [ x ]
Comments are now closed.
CSO Corporate Partners
  • Webroot
  • Trend Micro
  • NetIQ
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to CSO, invitation only events, reports & analysis.
CSO Directory

Web Security and Control

Protect your users on the web

Latest Jobs
Security Awareness Tip

Incident handling is a vast topic, but here are a few tips for you to consider in your incident response. I hope you never have to use them, but the odds are at some point you will and I hope being ready saves you pain (or your job!).


  1. Have an incident response plan.

  2. Pre-define your incident response team 

  3. Define your approach: watch and learn or contain and recover.

  4. Pre-distribute call cards.

  5. Forensic and incident response data capture.

  6. Get your users on-side.

  7. Know how to report crimes and engage law enforcement. 

  8. Practice makes perfect.

For the full breakdown on this article

Security ABC Guides

Warning: Tips for secure mobile holiday shopping

I’m dating myself, but I remember when holiday shopping involved pouring through ads in the Sunday paper, placing actual phone calls from tethered land lines to research product stock and availability, and actually driving places to pick things up. Now, holiday shoppers can do all of that from a smartphone or tablet in a few seconds, but there are some security pitfalls to be aware of.