UCLA researchers develop new obfuscation mechanism to encrypt software

Scientists over at University of California, Los Angeles have managed to develop a new system which can be used to encrypt any software / application such that it is rendered irreversible. The encrypted software / application will still execute and function as intended.

The system developed by Amit Sahai and a team of researchers at the UCLA may just put an end to reverse engineering, which is the primary mechanism used to hack / bypass the security mechanism within a software. According to Sahai, there are other obfuscation methods available but, these act as more or less like ‘speed bumps’ which forces attackers to spend more time and energy to get around the security mechanism of the software.

Sahai claims that the new system is like an ‘iron wall’ which is impossible to bypass up until complex mathematical problems are solved, which would take hundreds of years of work using today’s computing power – an improbable feat – making this system a game-changing development in the field of cryptography.

Sahai notes, “You write your software in a nice, reasonable, human-understandable way and then feed that software to our system.”

“It will output this mathematically transformed piece of software that would be equivalent in functionality, but when you look at it, you would have no idea what it’s doing”, he added.

The new encryption system makes use of a technique called functional encryption which involves sending of encrypted function rather than an encryption message. The idea is to send out a single message to a group of people and each person would receive different information depending upon the characteristics of the receiver. Sahai said, “Through functional encryption, you only get the specific answer, you don’t learn anything else.”

Further information, press release can be found here.