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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest University researchers are working on what they’re calling the first computer configuration that can respond to high-level cyber security threats on the fly.

Professor Errin Fulp and graduate student Michael Crouse are working on a “genetically-inspired algorithm.” It basically creates a moving target within computer networks containing highly sensitive data.

Early tests show the algorithm is able to automatically adjust to ward off threats.

“It’s constantly trying to make changes to settings to see if there’s something better or more secure. It’s essentially doing what an admin would do but doesn’t involve that human in all the steps. It’s more automated in that fashion,” Fulp said.

Cyber attacks normally start when a virus looks around for the best ways to intrude. If nothing has changed when the virus returns, it strikes.

Security experts said even a small change in the environment can make a big difference in deterring an attack.