[funsec] Wired: Pentagon Searches for 'Digital DNA' to Identify Hackers

r.b. r.b.hicks at gmail.com
Tue Jan 26 13:44:35 CST 2010

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 20:18, Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon &
Hannah <rMslade at shaw.ca> wrote:
> Date sent:              Tue, 26 Jan 2010 18:24:16 +0100
> From:                   "r.b." <r.b.hicks at gmail.com>
>> This makes great copy but it doesn't sound like they've heard about,
>> or bothered to take into consideration:
>> JITs
>> Automated code generation
>> Optimizers
> Having dealt with linguistic forensics for decades, I can assure you that it is
> possible to identify authors and sources despite editors, publishers, and even
> mangling from electronic communications systems.  There are a huge number of
> characteristics that can be used to identify people: my wife (who used to be a
> secretary) even found characteristics "line lengths" in stuff people wrote.

No argument at all with regard to human language.

> When I got into software forensics, I found a wealth of identifiers there, too.  Yes,
> the utilities and tools muddy some issues, but they turn out to create identifiers
> themselves, and the specific utilities and options used are also identifiers.

Do you mean digital documents and information in general, or actual binaries?

What I'm getting at is that with compilation and the optimization
voodoo performed by the tool chain tends to heavily modify an
information. Add to that the that the "interesting" code may only be a
small portion of to whole amount and the fact that it might be further
obfuscated it doesn't seem realistic to me that there would be enough
unique info to do this in any reliable sense.

>> Or a slipperier issue:
>> Just because someone wrote the code doesn't mean they launched the attack.
> True.  That's what court cases are for.

Yeah, but it'dbe a nightmare issuing subpoenas for the guy who made a
virus kit and the ten gazillion little jerks that used it.

>> This idea has been hyped before without result. I don't expect that to
>> change any time soon.
> Unfortunately, probably correct.  There is a great deal of research out there, and
> wonderful stuff it is.  But it does require testing and verification, and some money
> to put it all together.  Empire building, political infighting, and corporate
> marketing of inferior products/services will doubtless ensure that it never gets used
> properly.



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