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'frankenstein' Programmers Test a Cybersecurity Monster

Kevin Hamlen

University of Texas at Dallas professor Kevin Hamlen

Credit: University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas (UT) at Dallas researchers have developed Frankenstein, a software system that can cloak itself as it steals and reconfigures information in a computer program.

"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 countermeasures," says UT Dallas professor Kevin Hamlen.

He says Frankenstein is not a computer virus, but it could be used in cyberwarfare to provide a cover for a virus or another type of malicious software. "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," Hamlen says. "It looks completely different, but its code is consistent with something normal."

Frankenstein takes code from programs already on a computer and repurposes it, threading it together to fulfill the malware's task with new instructions. "We wanted to build something that learns as it propagates," Hamlen says. He says the research is the first published example describing this type of stealth technology. "As a proof-of-concept, we tested Frankenstein on some simple algorithms that are completely benign," Hamlen notes.

From UT Dallas News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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