Microsoft Research Tool For Anti-Spam Efforts Also Great At Detecting HIV Mutations

Posted Dec 4, 2011

The security research team at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has found out something very interesting when developing a tool to fight against e-mail spammers. Microsoft researchers discovered that tools that they have developed for detecting spammers’ efforts to avoid anti-spam filters also works very well for spotting mutations in the HIV virus.

During Worlds AIDs Day on December 1st, Microsoft Researchers David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson were called by AIDs researchers to analyze data about how the human immune system attacks the HIV virus using technology and algorithms that Microsoft developed in fighting spam e-mail.

Microsoft researchers sorted through data from a consortium of hospitals including the Ragon Institute, MIT, the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV. They used a biology tool called PhyloD, which uses data mining to help identify virus patterns.

“It turns out there are a lot of similarities between the way spammers evolve their approaches to avoid filters and the way the HIV virus is constantly mutating,” said Microsoft Research on their blog.

Using PhyloD and the company’s computing center, Microsoft was able to process a year’s worth of data resulting in several days.