Access and Feeds

Security: Constant Software Patches Don’t Work — Can Secure Hardware Defeat Hackers?

By Dick Weisinger

The second Tuesday of each month is Windows patch release day. When shutting your computer off that day, Microsoft will download new software that fixes bugs and, more often than not, attempts to plug holes in the software that could potentially be exploited by hackers.

Frequent security patch updates are becoming a familiar routine with almost every type of software. This despite the fact that the number of hacking incidents and the severity of the attacks is continuing to increase.

What to do? Some researchers think that while software designed for security is important, a more significant way to put a stop to a majority of hackers is to make changes at the hardware level of the computer. Hackers currently study the hardware architecture and microprocessor inner workings of their target machines, and from that they can determine vulnerabilities and where malicious code can be injected. One way to stop that kind of hacking is to better lock down computers at the hardware level.

A the University of Michigan, a project known as Morpheus built into a microprocessor a way to continually shuffle the location and format of data and the way that the information is encrypted.

Todd Austin, lead researcher on the Morpheus project, said that “imagine trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that rearranges itself every time you blink. That’s what hackers are up against with Morpheus. It makes the computer an unsolvable puzzle.”

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