Obfuscation through the observer-effect : thinking outside the virtual black-box

Authors
Blackthorne, Jeremy Lee
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Other Contributors
Yener, Bülent, 1959-
Milanova, Ana
Szymanśki, Bolesław
Issue Date
2015-05
Keywords
Computer science
Degree
MS
Terms of Use
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
Abstract
In this work, we initiate a theoretical study of obfuscation with regards to programs that interact with a user and an environment. We define the System-Interaction model to formally represent this additional dimension of interaction. We also define a semantically obfuscated program within our model as one that hides all semantic predicates from a computationally bounded adversary. This is possible while still remaining useful because semantically obfuscated programs can interact with an operating system while showing nothing to the user. Next, we analyze the necessary and sufficient conditions of achieving this standard of obfuscation. Finally, we demonstrate a candidate approach to achieving those conditions on current computers.
Theoretical investigations of obfuscation have been built around a model of a single Turing machine which interacts with a user. A drawback of this model is that it cannot account for the most common approach to obfuscation used by malware, the observer-effect. The observer-effect describes the situation in which the act of observing something changes it. Malware implements the observer-effect by detecting and acting on changes in its environment caused by user observation.
Description
May 2015
School of Science
Department
Dept. of Computer Science
Publisher
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Relationships
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
Access
CC BY-NC-ND. Users may download and share copies with attribution in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. No commercial use or derivatives are permitted without the explicit approval of the author.