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An ethical worm is a type of software that is replicated and sent to various systems over the Internet, in order to fix security vulnerabilities or provide security patches. Companies may offer an ethical worm in order to promote speedier universal closure of some kind of security loophole, when individual system administrators may not act quickly enough to protect their systems against a threat.
One way to think about an ethical worm is as the opposite or reverse of a worm-type virus. Instead of infecting computers and damaging systems, the ethical worm invades computers in order to protect systems. There are still a lot of questions about the use of ethical worms in relation to privacy and individual administrative autonomy. However, ethical worms are one tool for the security community to help protect a range of systems against cyberattacks.