Why use your own computer when you can make use of other people’s? Researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana have demonstrated “parasitic” computing — using other people’s servers to do your own processing, they said in an article in this week’s Nature magazine.
The process is similar to that used by the likes of SETI@home (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which uses the processing power of millions of desktop PCs to scan data from a radio telescope in the hope of finding signs of life in outer space, said Nature in an introduction.
The difference with parasitic computing is that the Notre Dame researchers did not ask for permission from the server owners. However, they did not have to hack to gain direct access to anyone’s computer but used the infrastructure of the Internet itself to create a virtual machine.