Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Frankenstein programmers test a cybersecurity monster

Date:
August 27, 2012
Source:
University of Texas, Dallas
Summary:
To catch a thief, you have to think like one. Computer scientists are trying to stay one step ahead of cyberattackers by creating their own monster. Their monster can cloak itself as it steals and reconfigures information in a computer program.

In order to catch a thief, you have to think like one.

UT Dallas computer scientists are trying to stay one step ahead of cyber attackers by creating their own monster. Their monster can cloak itself as it steals and reconfigures information in a computer program.

In part because of the potentially destructive nature of their technology, creators have named this software system Frankenstein, after the monster-creating scientist in author Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus.

"Shelley's story is an example of a horror that can result from science, and similarly, we intend our creation as a warning that we need better detections for these types of intrusions," said Dr. Kevin Hamlen, associate professor of computer science at UT Dallas who created the software, along with his doctoral student Vishwath Mohan. "Criminals may already know how to create this kind of software, so we examined the science behind the danger this represents, in hopes of creating counter measures."

Frankenstein is not a computer virus, which is a program that can multiply and take over other machines. But, it could be used in cyber warfare to provide cover for a virus or another type of malware, or malicious software.

In order to avoid antivirus software, malware typically mutates every time it copies itself onto another machine. Antivirus software figures out the pattern of change and continues to scan for sequences of code that are known to be suspicious.

Frankenstein evades this scanning mechanism. It takes code from programs already on a computer and repurposes it, stringing it together to accomplish the malware's malicious task with new instructions.

"We wanted to build something that learns as it propagates," Hamlen said. "Frankenstein takes from what is already there and reinvents itself."

"Just as Shelley's monster was stitched from body parts, our Frankenstein also stitches software from original program parts, so no red flags are raised," he said. "It looks completely different, but its code is consistent with something normal."

Hamlen said Frankenstein could be used to aid government counter terrorism efforts by providing cover for infiltration of terrorist computer networks. Hamlen is part of the Cyber Security Research and Education Center in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

The UT Dallas research is the first published example describing this type of stealth technology, Hamlen said.

"As a proof-of-concept, we tested Frankenstein on some simple algorithms that are completely benign," Hamlen said. "We did not create damage to anyone's systems."

The next step, Hamlen said, is to create more complex versions of the software.

Frankenstein was described in a paper published online (https://www.usenix.org/conference/woot12/frankenstein-stitching-malware-benign-binaries) in conjunction with a presentation at a recent USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas, Dallas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas, Dallas. "Frankenstein programmers test a cybersecurity monster." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827175931.htm>.
University of Texas, Dallas. (2012, August 27). Frankenstein programmers test a cybersecurity monster. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827175931.htm
University of Texas, Dallas. "Frankenstein programmers test a cybersecurity monster." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120827175931.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) — Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
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