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 Researchers move closer to completely optical artificial neural network
23.07.2018 | The Optical Society

nachricht Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers
20.07.2018 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Detecting damage in non-magnetic steel with the help of magnetism

23.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Researchers move closer to completely optical artificial neural network

23.07.2018 | Information Technology

Enabling technology in cell-based therapies: Scale-up, scale-out or program in-place

23.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>