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© 2016 IBM Corporation
Security according to Leafcutter Ants
Collaboration strategy based on 120 million years of warfare ...
2© 2016 IBM Corporation
Items
§ Why ants?
– 120 million years of warfare and survival
§ How do ants deal with security?
– ...
3© 2016 IBM Corporation
Why ants?
4© 2016 IBM Corporation
Ants in everyday life
§ Common ant: Lasius niger – dairy farming
§ Yellow Meadow ant: Lasius flavu...
5© 2016 IBM Corporation
Ants in everyday life
6© 2016 IBM Corporation
Origins
7© 2016 IBM Corporation
Origins
§ From Cretaceous, 120 million years ago - Sphecomyrma
§ Same ancestor as wasps
§ Semi-com...
8© 2016 IBM Corporation
Classification
Hymenoptera
Formicidae
Wasps
9© 2016 IBM Corporation
Classification
Hymenoptera
Formicidae Atta and Acromyrmex
Wasps Other 8 genera
10© 2016 IBM Corporation
Classification
§ Order of Hymenoptera
§ Family of Formicidae
§ 15,000 species known
11© 2016 IBM Corporation
Eusociology
§ Cooperation in raising juveniles (larvae)
§ At least two generations in one colony
...
12© 2016 IBM Corporation
Eusociology
Larvae
Colony
Adults
13© 2016 IBM Corporation
Eusociology
Larvae
Colony
Adult generation 1 Adult generation 2
14© 2016 IBM Corporation
Eusociology
Larvae
Colony
Adult generation 1 Adult generation 2
Reproductive
members
15© 2016 IBM Corporation
Complexity
§ Number of “individuals” – up to 200 million (Formica yessensis) with 45,000 intercon...
16© 2016 IBM Corporation
Share of eusocial insects
Total number of animal species (2 million)
Number of insect species (1 ...
17© 2016 IBM Corporation
Share of eusocial insects
Total bio-mass of animals
Eusocial insects' bio-mass (30%)
18© 2016 IBM Corporation
Queens
§ Monogynous: one queen
§ Polygynous: many queens
19© 2016 IBM Corporation
Taking a closer look at: Leafcutter ants
20© 2016 IBM Corporation
Leafcutter ants
§ About 50 species; two genera, Atta and Acromyrmex
§ Central and South America
§...
21© 2016 IBM Corporation
Leafcutter ants
§ According to Myrmecologists, leafcutter ants form the most complex animal socie...
22© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
§ Queen
§ Workers
§ Males
23© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
24© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
Queen Males
Reproductive
females
25© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
Queen Males
Reproductive
females
26© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
Queen Males
Reproductive
females
Majors
Minors
27© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
Queen Males
Reproductive
females
Majors
Minors
Soldiers For...
28© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
Queen Males
Reproductive
females
Majors
Minors
Soldiers For...
29© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles: defense
Non-reproductives
Reproductives
Queen Males
Reproductive
females
Majors
Minors
Pre...
30© 2016 IBM Corporation
Threat landscape
Environmental threats:
- Flooding
- Drought
Enemies:
- Predators
- Competitors
P...
31© 2016 IBM Corporation
Roles
§ Age polyethism
§ Physical polyethism
§ Combination of the above
32© 2016 IBM Corporation
Flexibility of roles
§ Young workers:
– Inside the colony
– Easy tasks
§ Older, experienced worke...
33© 2016 IBM Corporation
Flexibility of roles
§ Small workers:
– Delicate tasks
– Defense against parasites (inside as wel...
34© 2016 IBM Corporation
Complexity of environment vs. flexibility of roles
Static roles Dynamic roles
Low complexity,
e.g...
35© 2016 IBM Corporation
Defense strategy
§ Sanitation – keeping the nest clean
– Dead ants triggers scent signal to have ...
36© 2016 IBM Corporation
Crown juwel(s)
§ Only one queen – single point/specimen of failure
§ Every year, a new offspring ...
37© 2016 IBM Corporation
Polyandry
§ Females (queens) carrying spermatheca of 3 to 8 males (polyandry)
§ Better resistance...
38© 2016 IBM Corporation
Identity management
§ Authentication based on nest-specific pheromones
§ Pheromones:
– Authentica...
39© 2016 IBM Corporation
Alternative plans
§ Alternative nests
§ Alternative food sources – plant sap
§ Alternative defens...
40© 2016 IBM Corporation
Collaboration
Threat(s)
Information
gathering
41© 2016 IBM Corporation
Collaboration
Threat(s)
Information
gathering
Immediate alert Massive response
Grave
danger
42© 2016 IBM Corporation
Collaboration
Threat(s)
Information
gathering
Immediate alert Massive response
AlertCorrelation
G...
43© 2016 IBM Corporation
Collaboration
Threat(s)
Information
gathering
Immediate alert Massive response
Alert
Collective s...
44© 2016 IBM Corporation
Communication: information sharing
Potential
threat
Colony/group of
ants
Ant 1
45© 2016 IBM Corporation
Communication: information sharing
Potential
threat
Colony/group of
ants
Pheromone
mark
Ant 1
46© 2016 IBM Corporation
Pheromone
mark
Communication: information sharing
Potential
threat
Colony/group of
ants
Ant 1
Ant...
47© 2016 IBM Corporation
Communication: information sharing
Potential
threat
Colony/group of
ants
Ant 1
Ant 2,
3
48© 2016 IBM Corporation
Communication: information sharing
Potential
threat
Colony/group of
ants
Ant 1
Many
ants
Ant 2,
3
49© 2016 IBM Corporation
Continuity alternatives
Threat(s) Plan A: Fight back
Continuation of
colony
Plan C: Disperse (onl...
50© 2016 IBM Corporation
Threat landscape
Environmental threats:
- Flooding
- Drought
Enemies:
- Predators
- Competing ant...
51© 2016 IBM Corporation
Mitigations
Environmental threats:
• Alternative locations
• “Hibernation”
Enemies:
• Nest archit...
52© 2016 IBM Corporation
Nest architecture
Nest
Queen’s
chamber
Empty chamber
Larvae &
cocoons
chamber
Fungus
chamber
Wast...
53© 2016 IBM Corporation
Nest architecture: defense components
Nest
Queen’s
chamber
Empty chamber
Larvae &
cocoons
chamber...
54© 2016 IBM Corporation
Nest architecture: defense components
Nest
Queen’s
chamber
Empty chamber
Larvae &
cocoons
chamber...
55© 2016 IBM Corporation
Nest architecture: defense components
Nest
Queen’s
chamber
Empty chamber
Larvae &
cocoons
chamber...
56© 2016 IBM Corporation
Colony architecture
Queen and larvae
Young/small workers
Experienced/large workers
57© 2016 IBM Corporation
Ant literature
§ Bert Hölldobler & Edward O. Wilson: The Leafcutter Ants, Civilization by Instinc...
58© 2016 IBM Corporation
Contact details
Drs. Mike Chung RE CISSP
Associate Partner IBM Security
mchung@nl.ibm.com
+31 6 2...
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Defense mechanism of ants The Hague - compressed version

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Defense mechanism of Leafcutter Ants. What can we as security professionals learn from the masters of evolution that have survived 120 brutal years of evolution?

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Defense mechanism of ants The Hague - compressed version

  1. 1. © 2016 IBM Corporation Security according to Leafcutter Ants Collaboration strategy based on 120 million years of warfare experience Mike Chung | Associate Partner IBM Security May 2016
  2. 2. 2© 2016 IBM Corporation Items § Why ants? – 120 million years of warfare and survival § How do ants deal with security? – Defense collaboration in practice § What can we learn? – Applying the defense mechanism of ants on threat intelligence
  3. 3. 3© 2016 IBM Corporation Why ants?
  4. 4. 4© 2016 IBM Corporation Ants in everyday life § Common ant: Lasius niger – dairy farming § Yellow Meadow ant: Lasius flavus – underground farming § Red wood ant: Formica rufa – ingenious ventilated nests
  5. 5. 5© 2016 IBM Corporation Ants in everyday life
  6. 6. 6© 2016 IBM Corporation Origins
  7. 7. 7© 2016 IBM Corporation Origins § From Cretaceous, 120 million years ago - Sphecomyrma § Same ancestor as wasps § Semi-communal, more complex societies during the course of evolution
  8. 8. 8© 2016 IBM Corporation Classification Hymenoptera Formicidae Wasps
  9. 9. 9© 2016 IBM Corporation Classification Hymenoptera Formicidae Atta and Acromyrmex Wasps Other 8 genera
  10. 10. 10© 2016 IBM Corporation Classification § Order of Hymenoptera § Family of Formicidae § 15,000 species known
  11. 11. 11© 2016 IBM Corporation Eusociology § Cooperation in raising juveniles (larvae) § At least two generations in one colony § Coexistence of reproductive and non-reproductive members
  12. 12. 12© 2016 IBM Corporation Eusociology Larvae Colony Adults
  13. 13. 13© 2016 IBM Corporation Eusociology Larvae Colony Adult generation 1 Adult generation 2
  14. 14. 14© 2016 IBM Corporation Eusociology Larvae Colony Adult generation 1 Adult generation 2 Reproductive members
  15. 15. 15© 2016 IBM Corporation Complexity § Number of “individuals” – up to 200 million (Formica yessensis) with 45,000 interconnected nests § Maximum usage of brain capacity § Complex social and networking structures § Complex communication protocols
  16. 16. 16© 2016 IBM Corporation Share of eusocial insects Total number of animal species (2 million) Number of insect species (1 million) Eusocial insect species (0.02 million)
  17. 17. 17© 2016 IBM Corporation Share of eusocial insects Total bio-mass of animals Eusocial insects' bio-mass (30%)
  18. 18. 18© 2016 IBM Corporation Queens § Monogynous: one queen § Polygynous: many queens
  19. 19. 19© 2016 IBM Corporation Taking a closer look at: Leafcutter ants
  20. 20. 20© 2016 IBM Corporation Leafcutter ants § About 50 species; two genera, Atta and Acromyrmex § Central and South America § Cutting and processing fresh leaves
  21. 21. 21© 2016 IBM Corporation Leafcutter ants § According to Myrmecologists, leafcutter ants form the most complex animal societies § Nests air-conditioned: – Right temperature – Right level of humidity – Right level of ventilation § Castes of reproductives (queen(s)) and non-reproductives (workers, males)
  22. 22. 22© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles § Queen § Workers § Males
  23. 23. 23© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles Non-reproductives Reproductives
  24. 24. 24© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles Non-reproductives Reproductives Queen Males Reproductive females
  25. 25. 25© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles Non-reproductives Reproductives Queen Males Reproductive females
  26. 26. 26© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles Non-reproductives Reproductives Queen Males Reproductive females Majors Minors
  27. 27. 27© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles Non-reproductives Reproductives Queen Males Reproductive females Majors Minors Soldiers Foragers Assemblers CarersHitchhikers Gardeners
  28. 28. 28© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles Non-reproductives Reproductives Queen Males Reproductive females Majors Minors Soldiers Foragers Assemblers CarersHitchhikers Gardeners Age
  29. 29. 29© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles: defense Non-reproductives Reproductives Queen Males Reproductive females Majors Minors Predators Competitors Parasitic flies Parasitic fungi Crop diseases Infections Environmental threats
  30. 30. 30© 2016 IBM Corporation Threat landscape Environmental threats: - Flooding - Drought Enemies: - Predators - Competitors Pests: - Parasitic flies - Parasitic fungi Diseases: - Crop diseases - Infections
  31. 31. 31© 2016 IBM Corporation Roles § Age polyethism § Physical polyethism § Combination of the above
  32. 32. 32© 2016 IBM Corporation Flexibility of roles § Young workers: – Inside the colony – Easy tasks § Older, experienced workers: – Outside the colony – Complex tasks – Defense
  33. 33. 33© 2016 IBM Corporation Flexibility of roles § Small workers: – Delicate tasks – Defense against parasites (inside as well as on leaves to attack parasitic flies) § Large workers: – Physically intensive tasks; cutting and carrying leaves – Defense
  34. 34. 34© 2016 IBM Corporation Complexity of environment vs. flexibility of roles Static roles Dynamic roles Low complexity, e.g. desert High complexity, e.g. rain forest
  35. 35. 35© 2016 IBM Corporation Defense strategy § Sanitation – keeping the nest clean – Dead ants triggers scent signal to have them removed § Careful selection of nest location – Looking for signs of early attempts § Flexibility – Every member monitors for dangers – Every member contributes to defense
  36. 36. 36© 2016 IBM Corporation Crown juwel(s) § Only one queen – single point/specimen of failure § Every year, a new offspring of reproductive females and males § Survival of genes § Improvement of gene pool – most colonies conduct their nuptial flights during the same period and same time of the day § More chance of outbreeding § Females (queens) carrying spermatheca of 3 to 8 males (polyandry)
  37. 37. 37© 2016 IBM Corporation Polyandry § Females (queens) carrying spermatheca of 3 to 8 males (polyandry) § Better resistance to diseases
  38. 38. 38© 2016 IBM Corporation Identity management § Authentication based on nest-specific pheromones § Pheromones: – Authentication – Communication § Poison excretion: danger! § Ultrasonic sound: help!
  39. 39. 39© 2016 IBM Corporation Alternative plans § Alternative nests § Alternative food sources – plant sap § Alternative defense mechanisms
  40. 40. 40© 2016 IBM Corporation Collaboration Threat(s) Information gathering
  41. 41. 41© 2016 IBM Corporation Collaboration Threat(s) Information gathering Immediate alert Massive response Grave danger
  42. 42. 42© 2016 IBM Corporation Collaboration Threat(s) Information gathering Immediate alert Massive response AlertCorrelation Grave danger Local danger Response
  43. 43. 43© 2016 IBM Corporation Collaboration Threat(s) Information gathering Immediate alert Massive response Alert Collective storage of events Correlation Grave danger Local danger False alarm Response Sharing of information
  44. 44. 44© 2016 IBM Corporation Communication: information sharing Potential threat Colony/group of ants Ant 1
  45. 45. 45© 2016 IBM Corporation Communication: information sharing Potential threat Colony/group of ants Pheromone mark Ant 1
  46. 46. 46© 2016 IBM Corporation Pheromone mark Communication: information sharing Potential threat Colony/group of ants Ant 1 Ant 2, 3
  47. 47. 47© 2016 IBM Corporation Communication: information sharing Potential threat Colony/group of ants Ant 1 Ant 2, 3
  48. 48. 48© 2016 IBM Corporation Communication: information sharing Potential threat Colony/group of ants Ant 1 Many ants Ant 2, 3
  49. 49. 49© 2016 IBM Corporation Continuity alternatives Threat(s) Plan A: Fight back Continuation of colony Plan C: Disperse (only when reproductive females present) B1: Join Survival of genes Plan B: Move to family nest B2: Usurp
  50. 50. 50© 2016 IBM Corporation Threat landscape Environmental threats: - Flooding - Drought Enemies: - Predators - Competing ants Pests: - Parasitic flies - Parasitic fungi Diseases: - Crop diseases - Infections
  51. 51. 51© 2016 IBM Corporation Mitigations Environmental threats: • Alternative locations • “Hibernation” Enemies: • Nest architecture • Physical defense mechanisms Pests: • Polyethism • Ventilation system Diseases: • Sanitation • Polyandry (genetic diversity)
  52. 52. 52© 2016 IBM Corporation Nest architecture Nest Queen’s chamber Empty chamber Larvae & cocoons chamber Fungus chamber Waste chamberFungus chamber Alternate chamber Mounds “Emergency” exit/entrance Main tunnel Penduncle Egg’s chamber
  53. 53. 53© 2016 IBM Corporation Nest architecture: defense components Nest Queen’s chamber Empty chamber Larvae & cocoons chamber Fungus chamber Waste chamberFungus chamber Alternate chamber Mounds “Emergency” exit/entrance Main tunnel Penduncle Egg’s chamber Hard surface
  54. 54. 54© 2016 IBM Corporation Nest architecture: defense components Nest Queen’s chamber Empty chamber Larvae & cocoons chamber Fungus chamber Waste chamberFungus chamber Alternate chamber Mounds “Emergency” exit/entrance Main tunnel Penduncle Egg’s chamber Hard surface Multiple exits/entrances
  55. 55. 55© 2016 IBM Corporation Nest architecture: defense components Nest Queen’s chamber Empty chamber Larvae & cocoons chamber Fungus chamber Waste chamberFungus chamber Alternate chamber Mounds “Emergency” exit/entrance Main tunnel Penduncle Egg’s chamber Hard surface Multiple exits/entrances Escape rooms Blocks Blocks
  56. 56. 56© 2016 IBM Corporation Colony architecture Queen and larvae Young/small workers Experienced/large workers
  57. 57. 57© 2016 IBM Corporation Ant literature § Bert Hölldobler & Edward O. Wilson: The Leafcutter Ants, Civilization by Instinct § Edward O. Wilson & Bert Hölldobler: The Superorganism, the Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies
  58. 58. 58© 2016 IBM Corporation Contact details Drs. Mike Chung RE CISSP Associate Partner IBM Security mchung@nl.ibm.com +31 6 2565 7593 +82 10 3521 7754

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