The best defence is a fine offence

Friday, 16 August 2002, 11:50 AM EST

Julie Huff, a systems architect at PRC, a division of the military contractor Northrop Grumman, and two colleagues, based in Bellevue, Nebraska, recently received a US patent for a computer platform that she says allows businesses and the military to chase digital marauders while a computer attack is under way.

"What we wanted to offer was not another form of intrusion detection, but a way to respond," says Huff, who was granted the patent along with Tracy Shelanskey and Sheila Jackson. "We wanted to make detection technology at least as flexible as hacker technology."

Potential offensive measures are varied and many, she says. One is to conjure what is known as a honey pot - essentially an alluring trap - so the intruder can be studied while he thinks he is breaking into the real system architecture.

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