Each year, large amounts of money and labor are spent on patching the vulnerabilities in operating systems and various popular software to prevent exploitation by worms. Modeling the propagation process can help us to devise effective strategies against those worms' spreading. This paper presents a microcosmic analysis of worm propagation procedures. Our proposed model is different from traditional methods and examines deep inside the propagation procedure among nodes in the network by concentrating on the propagation probability and time delay described by a complex matrix. Moreover, since the analysis gives a microcosmic insight into a worm's propagation, the proposed model can avoid errors that are usually concealed in the traditional macroscopic analytical models. The objectives of this paper are to address three practical aspects of preventing worm propagation: (i) where do we patch? (ii) how many nodes do we need to patch? (iii) when do we patch? We implement a series of experiments to evaluate the effects of each major component in our microcosmic model. Based on the results drawn from the experiments, for high-risk vulnerabilities, it is critical that networks reduce the number of vulnerable nodes to below 80%. We believe our microcosmic model can benefit the security industry by allowing them to save significant money in the deployment of their security patching schemes.
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