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 Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets
22.03.2019 | Universität des Saarlandes

nachricht Touchscreens go 3D with buttons that pulsate and vibrate under your fingertips
14.03.2019 | Universität des Saarlandes

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>