Giving Up PS3 Cycles (And Network Security) for Research…

I noticed an interesting article on Slashdot today which talks about how Sony has partnered with Stanford University’s Folding@Home project to “harness the PS3’s technology to help study how proteins are formed in the human body and how they sometimes form incorrectly.”

This worries me for the following reasons:

  1. The main goal is to use the PS3’s spare CPU cycles to crunch numbers. From the story:

    To participate, users will just download a program into the PS3’s hard drive. Then they just need to leave the machine on when they’re not playing. The Folding@home team will divide their complex calculations into manageable chunks and then send it to the participating machines. The program and data will take up 10 to 20 megabytes – or about the size of a handful of MP3 files, [Vijay] Pande said.

    With that being said how long before I receive a nasty email from my service provider detailing the ‘malicious activity’ seen from my assigned IP range?

  2. This FAQ entry:

    Is it safe?
    From FaHWiki

    The Folding@home client and distributed computing service is no less safe than other programs that you can download from the internet and run on your computer. Because security of the FAH client is very important to the Pande Group, they have designed the FAH to be as secure as feasible through encrypted downloads/uploads, file checksums, etc. FAH should not reduce the security of your computer.

    I don’t know about you but the “no less safe than other programs that you can download from the internet and run on your computer” quote scares the hell out of me. So they know that it’s maybe, sorta, probably safe but no less safe then say a Trojan, Rootkit, or Virus. “Sure, I’m sold….let’s install it on everything I own.”

  3. And this FAQ entry:

    FAH & Trojans
    From FaHWiki
    Jump to: navigation, search

    Every DC project has trojans/trojanized clients floating around the cyberspace and FAH is not an exception. There is currently around 4..6 known outbrakes of modified clients.

    But not to worry these all will be seen at some point and will be dealt with. Download new clients from the official Stanford page only.

    So let me get this straight…you know that there are Trojanized clients out there…and you don’t care….so we shouldn’t care….and these aren’t the droids we’re looking for? OK, so I’ll just hold my breath and by the time I regain consciousness everything will be all puppy dogs and ice cream.

I think I’m going to have to pass on running this DC client. Maybe I can just ESP them some good Karma or something instead.

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