Digital "ants" wander through computers searching out and then swarming viruses and worms.
Digital ants could soon be crawling through your computer's hard drive, but don't worry, they are there to help.
Scientists from Wake Forest University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created an army of digital ants and their superior officers, digital sergeants and sentinels, to search out viruses, worms and other malware.
The new antivirus software could provide better protection while freeing up valuable hardware.
"We are using the ants to sense something very basic, like a connection rate," said Errin Fulp, a professor of computer science at Wake Forest University who helped develop the digital ants.
"Then we collect that evidence which points us to a particular infection or security threat," said Fulp.
Like their biological counterparts, each individual ant is not very bright. A connection rate, CPU utilization or one of about 60 other technical details is all they can sense. When an ant detects something unusual, it leaves a digital pheromone, a tiny digital sense that says something unusual is going on here, and that other ants should check it out.