There are two opposing forces to balance when designing an experiment that only represents a system. One is to have the experiment as close to the actual system as possible and the other is to keep the experiment something you can control, which is easier on smaller scales. Thankfully modern technology allows our experiments to reach impressive sizes, such as the 300,000 virtual Android devices in the MegaDroid network at Sandia National Laboratories.
MegaDroid, like MegaTux and MegaWin before it, was built to allow researchers to study different kinds of attacks, such as those that spoof wireless data. Instead of looking at the effects an attack can have on a single device, this device will allow the researchers to examine its impacts on a larger network of devices. As Android devices and mobile computing in general grows in popularity, such study is needed to protect individuals, companies, and groups from different kinds of hazards.
Building MegaDroid was not easy for the researchers, due to the complexity of the code. Android itself is roughly 14 million lines of code, but the Linux kernel it runs on top of more than doubles that. Some of the issues the researchers may find might not even be the result of a malicious attack, but a mistake within the code no one noticed before.