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 The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today
27.04.2017 | Technische Universität Ilmenau

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>