Researchers Claim First Hack-Free Software Development

Wednesday, February 02, 2011



A team of Australian researchers claim to have produced the first hack-free software designed to be malware resistant.

Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs), an offshoot of the ICT Research Centre of Excellence, has produced the "seL4", an operating system microkernel that touts the ability to successfully regulate all access to a computer's hardware.

The team claims the kernel has been mathematically proven to be able to distinguish between untrusted and trusted software to protect systems from malicious attacks and failures.

Team lead Gerwin Klein said, "Our seL4 microkernel is the only operating system kernel in existence whose source code has been mathematically proven to implement its specification correctly. Under the assumptions of the proof, the seL4 kernel for ARM11 will always do precisely what its specification says it will do."

The developers predict that the seL4 will someday enable software to run on mobile devices even in the presence of untrusted or malicious code, such as secure financial transactions, without the fear of compromise.

The news follows on the heels of an announcement that researchers at Intel are preparing for the release of new technology that will virtually eliminate zero-day threats.

The hardware-based solution is innovative, as is does not depend on detecting threats  based on the unique signature of the malware. Intel expects the solution to be available by as early as the end of 2011. 

"The best security is a combination of hardware and software. Hardware security can be stronger and faster in some situations, but isn't as flexible as software-only mechanisms. The big change here is that it sounds like Intel is pulling security functions into the chip or the chipset," said Gabriel Consulting Group analyst Dan Olds.

Advancements in hardware and software based anti-malware technology may put an end to the rapid increase in malware, with nearly 20 million new signatures detected in 2010 alone.

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shawn merdinger I'd like to see a follow-up to this article a year from now.
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