New UK Data Tool Proving Helpful in Tracing Cyber Attacks

A new data tool in the UK is creating quite a buzz in cyber security circles, for its ability to expose criminals and thieves.

The tool, named Turing, was created by the British company Nominet.

As explained by reporters at BBC, Turing's software "can sort through terabytes of data swiftly to expose trends, hotspots and outbreaks," and it can "wind activity forwards and backwards in time to trace when attacks started, to help police investigations."

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How does it work? As Nominet representatives told BBC, their company responds to millions of requests each day by networks across the UK that want to know where certain ".uk" domains are located. Nominet owns and operates the gigantic servers that process and store that information.

Using the large amount of information about domains that they have amassed over the past couple of years, they can narrow down UK-based locations that attacks initiate from.

The Turing software tool originated as a way to monitor Internet traffic among .uk sites to spot trends, as well as to trace where spam emails were coming from. Company reps said as they traced large amounts of spam, they began to find more and more criminal activity, as many cyber crimes are spread through spam and phishing emails.

Eventually, through the use of Turing, Nominet was able to single out specific computers that were involved in criminal activity.

The company is now creating waves by using that information to assist in police investigations, as well as to help ISP (Internet service provider) companies spot computers on their networks that are part of "botnets," or networks of hijacked home computers.

"[Turing] makes it easier for users to spot a range of network threats and problems including botnets, latency, bugs and errors, malware, and man-in-the-middle cyber attacks," explained Computer Business Review.

“What this does is provide another tool to keep the Internet safe," said Nominet's CTO, Simon McCalla, in an interview with TechWorld. "It is an increasingly challenging thing to do. We need cutting-edge tools to combat threats.”

Turing is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, experts say, as it fills a void in the cyber security world that was empty for a long time.

"One of the world's largest ISPs is already using our technology and it has also attracted the attention of some major corporations who see its potential for spotting vulnerabilities in what they thought were secure networks," Nominet CEO Russell Haworth told Computer Business Review.

In addition to helping with cyber security, TechWorld explained that Turing can also be used to help "clean" people's computers of unnecessary or bad data. For example, companies that manage large lists of subscriber emails can automate queries to Turing to help test emails to see if they are bad or fake, and remove them, freeing up storage space on their servers.

Turing can also help companies "decode" their traffic in order to better understand their customers, or where their traffic is coming from, explained

Turing certainly gives cyber criminals a reason to think twice.

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