To help speed up efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19, white hat hackers and computer experts are engaging in crowdsourced simulations aimed at better understanding how the virus behaves.

By using computational algorithms that simulate protein folding, cybersecurity firm CRITICALSTART has joined others around the globe to help doctors and healthcare professionals better understand the bug and, hopefully, unlock the key to creating an effective vaccine.

According to the company, its TEAMARES research team has found that its hash cracker Cthulhu can be used to run computer simulations that mimic the same complex protein folding that occurs in viruses. “The company is sharing its findings with Folding@Home  to simulate how the virus behaves — data that we hope can be used by doctors and healthcare professionals to develop potential vaccines,” says Quentin Rhoads-Herrera, director of professional Services, in the company's blog .

Folding@home is a project focused on disease research. Folding refers to the way human protein folds in the cells that make up the human body.

“Similar to cryptocurrency mining, people who are not medical experts are able to leverage their own expertise to help solve global issues such as COVID-19,” says Rhoads-Herrera. “With the help of Cthulhu, TEAMARES has been processing jobs straight from Folding@Home on our CPU and GPU processing power. Folding@Home then takes that data to help in researching viruses.”