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Protecting Distributed Applications Through Software Diversity and Renewability

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Remote Man-at-the-end (R-MATE) attacks occur in distributed applications where an adversary has physical access to an untrusted client device and can obtain an advantage from inspecting, reverse engineering, or tampering with the hardware itself or the software it contains.

In this talk we give an overview of R-MATE scenarios and present a system for protecting against attacks on untrusted clients. In our system the trusted server overwhelms the client’s analytical abilities by continuously and automatically generating and pushing to him diverse variants of the client code. The diversity subsystem employs a set of primitive code transformations that provide temporal, spatial, and semantic diversity in order to generate an ever-changing attack target for the adversary, making tampering difficult without this being detected by the server.

Speaker’s Bio

Christian Collberg received a BSc in Computer Science and Numerical Analysis and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Lund University, Sweden. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Arizona and has also worked at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and holds a position at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China.

Prof. Collberg is the author of the first comprehensive textbook on software protection, “Surreptitious Software: Obfuscation, Watermarking, and Tamperproofing for Software Protection,” published in Addison-Wesley’s computer security series.

Prof. Collberg is a leading researcher in the intellectual property protection of software, and also maintains an interest in compiler and programming language research. In his spare time he writes songs, sings, and plays guitar for The Undecidables and hopes one day to finish up his Great Swedish Novel.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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