Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Purdue marshals new approach to protect software

26.06.2002


Hackers who try to use or copy software illegally may soon find a sticky web waiting to trap them.



It’s not the World Wide Web. Instead, it’s a new approach under development at Purdue University designed to protect software. By placing a linked brigade of hundreds of tiny "guards" at different points within software code, computer scientists have made it far more difficult for hackers to use software without permission from the vendor.

"Merely cracking a single password won’t do it anymore," said Mikhail (Mike) Atallah, professor of computer science at Purdue. "We are distributing security measures throughout the software. It is no longer enough to hack past one point; the guards will notice what you’ve done and prevent you from using the program."


Atallah, who leads the research team that came up with this new approach, co-authored a paper on the results with Purdue graduate student Hoi Chang. Chang presented their ideas at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) workshop on Security and Privacy in Digital Rights Management, SPDRM 2001.

Atallah has since helped found the startup venture Arxan Technologies Inc. to develop the protection measures for market. The company hopes to have a finished product available by this fall.

"We are encouraged by our test results so far," Atallah said. "We have been able to add custom levels of security to software without significantly decreasing its speed or increasing the time it takes to download over the Internet."

Traditional software protection measures typically demand that a user enter a password supplied by the vendor at the time of purchase. But it has proven all too easy for hackers to get past a single security checkpoint, after which they can use a program for free and copy it as often as they wish.

"The old way is a lot like having a single guard at the bank," Atallah said. "Neutralize him, and the vault is yours."

The innovation of Atallah’s team lies in connecting the security measures with the software’s operation, making the two inextricable. This effectively multiplies the number of guards to dozens or hundreds, and makes it impossible for a hacker to neutralize one guard without the rest noticing.

"These measures will deter software piracy for a simple reason – it will become too much of a hassle for a hacker to find and disable all the guards," Atallah said. "And we have additional strategies to compound the effectiveness of our approach."

One such strategy involves adding 100 guards to a piece of software, but only having 10 of them actively on the job at a given moment; their membership changes constantly and in secret. Keeping most of the guards "sidelined" in this fashion is one way Atallah keeps programs functioning fast, even after the guards are added.

"Security measures like ours must be added to existing software," Atallah said. "Historically, this has meant two things in practice: The modified software takes up more memory in your computer, and it runs more slowly. Our approach sidesteps both of those problems by spreading the additional code out in tiny pieces throughout the software. So far, it has caused very little reduction in speed."

Arxan is currently testing the security measures on Windows systems in several corporate environments. The system can easily be modified for other operating systems, and the company plans to market versions for Mac and Linux systems as well. Arxan has licensed the technology from Purdue based on several patent applications.

The company is based in Purdue’s Research Park, which currently encompasses 619 acres about two miles north of Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus. Almost 150 acres have been developed with approximately 1 million square feet owned or leased by more than 100 companies. More than 40 of these companies are growing within the research park’s high-tech incubation complex, which is the largest university-affiliated business incubator in the country. Many of these ventures are developing Purdue-licensed technologies.

Initial funding for the research was provided by Purdue’s Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS).

Writer: Chad Boutin, (765) 494-2081, cboutin@purdue.edu

Sources: Mike Atallah, (765) 494-6017, mja@cs.purdue.edu

Donna Jeker, (917) 415-0837, djeker@ix.netcom.com

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans
16.01.2017 | University of Southern California

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT announces CloudTeams collaborative software development platform – join it for free
10.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>