Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Computer Program Prevents Crashes And Hacker Attacks

Date:
January 3, 2007
Source:
University Of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
Today's computers have more than 2,000 times as much memory as the machines of yesteryear, yet programmers are still writing code as if memory is in short supply. Not only does this make programs crash annoyingly, but it also can make users vulnerable to hacker attacks, says computer scientist Emery Berger from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Today's computers have more than 2,000 times as much memory as the machines of yesteryear, yet programmers are still writing code as if memory is in short supply. Not only does this make programs crash annoyingly, but it also can make users vulnerable to hacker attacks, says computer scientist Emery Berger from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Related Articles


With such problems in mind, Berger created a new program that prevents crashing and makes users safer, he says. Dubbed DieHard, there are versions for programs that run in Windows or Linux. DieHard is available free for non-commercial users at www.diehard-software.org.

Berger developed DieHard together with Microsoft researcher Ben Zorn. Berger has received a $30,000 grant from Microsoft, a $30,000 grant from Intel, and a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for his work on DieHard.

Almost everything done on a computer uses some amount of memory--each graphic on an open Web page, for example--and when a program is running, it is constantly requesting small or medium chunks of memory space to hold each item, explains Berger. He likens the memory landscape to a row of houses, each with only enough square footage for a certain number of bytes. The problem, says Berger, is that sometimes when memory real estate is requested, programs can unwittingly rent out houses that are already occupied. They also might request a certain amount of square footage when they actually need more, so an item can spill over into another "house." These mistakes can make programs suddenly crash, or worse.

"Ironically, crashing is the best thing that can happen," says Berger. "An overflow also can make your computer exploitable by hackers."

One way that the computer becomes more vulnerable results from the fact that "addresses" that are designated for a password, for example, will be on the same lot on the same street in every version of the program. So if a hacker overwrites a password, he or she can easily locate the password address on any of the umpteen versions of the program that are out there.

DieHard presents several remedies to such problems. First, it takes a compact row of memory buildings and spreads them around in the landscape. It also randomly assigns addresses--a password that has a downtown address in one session may be in the suburbs next time around. And in some versions of the program, DieHard will secretly launch two additional versions of the program the user is running--if a program starts to crash, that buggy version gets shut down and one of the other two is selected to remain open. DieHard can also tell a user the likelihood that they'll have been affected by a particular bug.

These problems wouldn't arise if programmers were a little less focused on speed and efficiency, which is rarely a problem these days, and more attentive to security issues, says Berger.

"Today we have way more memory and more computer power than we need," he says. "We want to use that to make systems more reliable and safer, without compromising speed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Massachusetts Amherst. "New Computer Program Prevents Crashes And Hacker Attacks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070102095717.htm>.
University Of Massachusetts Amherst. (2007, January 3). New Computer Program Prevents Crashes And Hacker Attacks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070102095717.htm
University Of Massachusetts Amherst. "New Computer Program Prevents Crashes And Hacker Attacks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070102095717.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

European Parliament Might Call For Google's Break-Up

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) This is the latest development in an antitrust investigation accusing Google of unfairly prioritizing own products and services in search results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Nintendo Making A Comeback With 'Super Smash Bros.'?

Is Nintendo Making A Comeback With 'Super Smash Bros.'?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Nintendo released new "Super Smash Bros." Friday, and it's getting great reviews. Could this mean a comeback for the gaming company? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) China and "one or two" other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and hea Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins