Technology 3 min read

MORPHEUS: Hack-Proof Chip Stops Attacks Before They Even Start

TobiasD / Pixabay

TobiasD / Pixabay

MORPHEUS, a DARPA-funded processor, can now defend your system against every attack.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a computer processor architecture that would not only enable computers to proactively defend against threats. but eventually, render the current security model of patches and bugs obsolete.

How does it work, you wonder?

MORPHEUS protects its users against potential attacks by randomly reshuffling key bits on its code and data. Now, here is the exciting part; it can perform this reshuffling at 20 times per second.

Not only is this a thousand times faster than any electronic hacking technique, but the speed is infinitely faster than any human hacker can work.

According to one of the developers, Todd Austin, the current approach of removing security bugs is inefficient. The professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan described it as “a losing game.” Here is why.

People are always writing codes to solve new problems. And with every newly written code comes tons of bugs and security vulnerabilities to worry about.

Austin noted that:

“With MORPHEUS, even if a hacker finds a bug, the information needed to exploit it vanishes 50 milliseconds later. It’s perhaps the closest thing to a future-proof secure system.”

How MORPHEUS Protects Against Every Attack

Austin and his team already demonstrated how the new chip could successfully defend against all variants of control-flow attack – one of the most dangerous and widely used hacking techniques.

Instead of the traditional method of patching known code vulnerabilities with software, MORPHEUS embeds security into the system hardware.

Using a process known as “churning”, the processor continually randomizes critical program assets. This ultimately makes it impossible for hackers to pin down and exploit vulnerabilities.

Austin further explained:

“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.”

Users can adjust the chip’s churn rate to find the right balance between minimizing the resources consumed and maximizing security.

During the demonstration, the developers selected a churn rate of once every 50 milliseconds. Aside from being faster than the fastest electronic hacking techniques, this churn rate slows system performance by only 1 percent.

MORPHEUS also comes with an attack detector that increases the churn rate when it senses an imminent attack.

Although the developers designed MORPHEUS for laptops and PCs, its application extends beyond that. According to Austin, this processor, with its simple and reliable security, is even more essential in the Internet of Things devices.

“We’ve all seen how damaging an attack can be when it hits a computer that’s sitting on your desk,” he said. “But attacks on the computer in your car, in your smart lock or even in your body could place users at even greater risk.”

Read More: Coffee Lake Refresh: Intel’s 9th Gen Chips Take Center Stage

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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