Scrambled Code Keeps Software Safe

A new form of encryption could make practically unhackable code

3 min read
Scrambled Code Keeps Software Safe
Photo: iStockphoto

Software can hold invaluable secrets within orderly lines of code.Algorithms now predict which Amazon.com products you’re likely to buy next, whether an early movie script will be a box-office hit, and even whether or not a legal case will go to trial. Naturally, coders of such software don’t want outsiders to be able to reverse engineer the programs and learn their secret formulas. Now, computer scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, IBM Research, and the University of Texas at Austin have begun to pave the way toward eliminating that threat.

The researchers say they’ve developed a “mathematical obfuscation” scheme to encrypt such valuable software. They hope that one day this scheme will allow users to run programs normally while transforming the underlying code into math puzzles that would take hundreds of years to solve.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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