Advances in low-level software protection Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6m311r97q

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  • Preventative methods for software reverse engineering have been given greater attention in recent times due to the increase in computational resources and tools available to the public. The inherent security provided by encoding source into machine code (executable form) can no longer be assumed, given the availability of effective automated methods for the extraction of source-level structures and information (i.e., intellectual property). Numerous methods have been proposed targeting the protection against reverse engineering tools and techniques; however, one of the most promising and widely used of these is obfuscation, or the introduction of obscurity into a software program. The process of reverse engineering can be seen as a two-phase inverse of compilation composed of disassembly and decompilation. The level of attention that has been given to preventing disassembly through obfuscation is relatively small when compared to the prevention of decompilation. Very few positive results have been published in this arena, leaving it as a promising medium for research. Novel techniques are presented in this dissertation for the prevention of static disassembly on x86 computing architectures. These new methods illustrate two main approaches by which disassembly can be thwarted. Results given within indicate the first positive technique by which the run-time of disassembly is attacked as well as the strongest protection against static disassembly available in current literature. Additionally, new engineering techniques for the realization of effective protection tools are given as improvements over existing methods, leading to a high potency against disassembly at low cost. This dissertation is the first of its kind to address the binary protection of executables against static disassembly and provides a solid ground for future work in this field.
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