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Chameleon-like computer code keeps hackers guessing

​Researchers at List, a CEA Tech institute, developed and patented a dynamic code-generating technology for very small hardware platforms with limited memory and processing power—perfect for bolstering embedded systems' defenses against physical attack.

Published on 15 October 2015

Polymorphic code has a unique capacity to change its appearance to keep hackers off its trail. And researchers at List have developed a technology capable of generating computer code “on the fly.” In other words, during execution the code mutates, changing its outwardly-observable behavior without changing the function of the code.

What makes the technology particularly novel is its suitability for very small hardware platforms. According to List, “The solution requires very little memory and processing power, making it ideal for the Internet of Things.” And how little is very little? Well, the solution requires around 2,000 times less memory than a traditional system and can generate code 1,000 times faster!

The technology could also be used for more powerful embedded systems, such as those found in smartphones and tablets, and for servers.

Finally, polymorphic code ensures a substantial leap forward in terms of security at a lower cost than other state-of-the-art methods. Testing has shown a 2,000-fold increase in security.

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