- Detecting computer worms is a highly challenging task. We present a new approach that uses artificial neural networks (ANN) to detect the presence of computer worms based on measurements of computer behavior. We compare ANN to three other classification methods and show the advantages of ANN for detection of known worms. We then proceed to evaluate ANN’s ability to detect the presence of an unknown worm. As the measurement of a large number of system features may require significant computational resources, we evaluate three feature selection techniques. We show that, using only five features, one can detect an unknown worm with an average accuracy of 90%. We use a causal index analysis of our trained ANN to identify rules that explain the relationships between the selected features and the identity of each worm. Finally, we discuss the possible application of our approach to host-based intrusion detection systems.