Scholarship & Creative WorkResearchers develop next-generation antivirus system
Antivirus software on personal computers could become a thing of the past thanks to a new "cloud computing" approach to malicious software detection developed at U-M.
Cloud computing refers to applications and services provided seamlessly on the Internet.
Traditional antivirus software is installed on millions of individual computers around the world but researchers say antivirus software from popular vendors increasingly is ineffective. The researchers observed malware malicious software detection rates as low as 35 percent against the most recent threats and an average window of vulnerability exceeding 48 days. That means new threats went undetected for an average of seven weeks. The computer scientists also found severe vulnerabilities in the antivirus engines themselves.
The researchers' new approach, called CloudAV, moves antivirus functionality into the "network cloud" and off personal computers. CloudAV analyzes suspicious files using multiple antivirus and behavioral detection programs simultaneously.
"CloudAV virtualizes and parallelizes detection functionality with multiple antivirus engines, significantly increasing overall protection," says Farnam Jahanian, professor of computer science and engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).
Jahanian, along with doctoral candidate Jon Oberheide and postdoctoral fellow Evan Cooke, both of EECS, recently presented a paper on the new approach at the USENIX Security Symposium.
The researchers see promising opportunities in applying CloudAV to cell phones and other mobile devices that aren't robust enough to carry powerful antivirus software.
The paper is called "CloudAV: N-Version Antivirus in the Network Cloud."
Epilepsy drug may help alcoholics recover from dependence
A small new pilot study from a team of alcoholism and sleep researchers suggests that the drug gabapentin might be able to reduce insomnia in recovering alcoholics, and help them stay away from alcohol more successfully. The drug, often used to treat epilepsy and chronic pain, is not habit-forming and is not processed by the liver.
The study is published in the August issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Although the study involved only 21 insomniacs in recovery from alcohol dependence, and did not provide long-term gabapentin treatment or long-term follow-up on their sleep or their alcohol recovery, it was randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blinded.
In all, 30 percent of the patients who received gabapentin during alcohol recovery relapsed to drinking, compared with 80 percent of those who received a placebo. Based on the results, the researchers already have launched additional studies of the potential role of gabapentin in alcohol recovery and sleep.
"We showed that the patients who got the real drug, rather than placebo, were less likely to relapse to drinking or if they relapsed it was later," says lead author Dr. Kirk Brower, executive director of Addiction Treatment Services and a professor of psychiatry at the Medical School. "In other words, gabapentin prevented and delayed relapse. Meanwhile, patients reported sleeping better in both the treatment and placebo groups, which may be due to the gabapentin in the first group and the resumption of drinking in the other."
Co-author Dr. Flavia Consens, associate professor of neurology and member of the Sleep Disorders Center, says the new findings could open the door to better understanding of how to handle sleep problems in people who are trying to recover from their dependence on alcohol. As many as 70 percent of people with alcohol problems suffer insomnia, she says, while others cope with other sleep disturbances including breathing problems known as sleep apnea.
Minorities less likely to know about breast cancer options
Nearly half of women treated for breast cancer did not know that their odds of being alive after five years roughly are the same whether they undergo mastectomy or breast conserving surgery. Minority women were even less likely to be aware of this important factor of their treatment decision, a Comprehensive Cancer Center study finds.
Minority women also were less likely to know about relative survival rates even when researchers considered factors such as the surgeon's experience, the type of hospital and whether patients reported talking to their surgeon about treatment options.
"These factors traditionally associated with quality care were not associated with informed decision-making or with our knowledge measures. Surgeon volume or treatment setting did not affect whether women had good knowledge of their treatment options after they had been through the process, nor did it really mediate the racial and ethnic differences we found," says study author Sarah Hawley, a research investigator at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Results of the study appear in the August issue of Health Services Research.
"It's important for women to be able to do what we call a high-quality decision-making process," Hawley says. "If women do not make an informed decision, they're more likely to be dissatisfied down the road with the treatment they received."
The researchers urge surgeons to make sure they communicate information about treatment options, including survival and recurrence risks, during the initial visit in a way that is culturally and ethnically appropriate. They also urge patients to be aware of their treatment options.
When dating violence is witnessed, victims more likely to talk
Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to discuss it if a friend sees the incident, a new study finds.
Researchers from the University and three other institutions conducted the study to understand what leads abused teens to seek help. The findings appear in the July issue of Violence Against Women, a scholarly journal that focuses on gender-based violence against women in all forms and across cultural and national boundaries.
"There are a number of possible reasons that teens are likely to talk about the violence if someone sees it," says Daniel Saunders, professor of social work. "The witness to the violence might start the conversation out of concern or the victim might want to talk about their fear or embarrassment. Another possible reason is that the victim might feel comfortable discussing what has already been disclosed."
Fifty-seven victims of dating violence at an urban high school were asked questions about the worst episode of violence they experienced. Two-thirds of these episodes were observed by someone else.
Most of those victimized said they talked with someone about the worst violence. Those who talked with someone always chose a friend. Only a small number talked with an adult as well.
How the teen victims viewed the violence also affected their willingness to talk about it. If they saw the perpetrator as angry or jealous, as opposed to controlling or protective, they were more likely to talk about the violence.
Richard Tolman, professor of social work, also worked on the study.