Shape-shifting computer chip thwarts an army of hackers

By Todd Austin and Lauren Biernacki

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Interesting. Thank you, JT, for including articles from  The Conversation.

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Sounds promising. Very useful since the age of cyberpunk and hacking isn't sci-fy anymore.

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This article put a smile on my face. I'll bet DARPA is an interesting place to work.

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Like with most articles on JT, I understood very little.

But the tone of writing was good so it must be good.

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It's not the underlying hardware, but that which rests on top of it, which provides the biggest security risk.

This research is good, though targeted at the high end side of things and even then, doesn't guarantee security...

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Bs. Then they will just give the precariously employed part time janitor fifty bucks and carry your Morpheus empowered data servers out of the unlocked room. That’s cheaper, even faster and in most cases easier than developing such a chip architecture or the other side reading a hacker black book for making those attacks.

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There are easier ways of doing this.

Mashing up the FPGA and the CPU was always a good option to increase the speed of a processor.

Once your software is running, a program can optimise itself according to how you use it. The next level down is to optimise the operating system for it.

Below this, you can optimise the firmware, and below that, you can alter the instruction set of the CPU.

It's possible to alter the CPU without changing the software that runs on it, for greater speed. Morpheus appears to want to change the whole lot from the CPU up to the software, together.

What they are doing is interesting, but in creating a unique system, it locks the software on that system.

That introduces a problem - updates and additional code, drivers etc, could not be added. No software is ever perfect, and updates, just like hacks, would become impossible. So would bug fixes and debugging.

So it would work, but at considerable cost and complexity.

You don't need a nuclear bomb to crack a nut. Just nutcrackers.

Air gap your intranet and internet. Don't store a lot of data on your system. Move data off your system after it is used for payments or retain it on user's machine using distributed topologies. Distributed software can remove the vulnerable servers from the system completely, each PC acting as an active node in connection with others. This is the next revolution in tech and the internet.

You can improve the actual writing of code. Improve your security. Train your staff not to open iffy e-mails.

The Morpheus solution would introduce new problems and negate the considerable benefits we have from widely usable coding architectures.

As a 'solution' it is the sort of thing that a government agency like DARPA would come up with, but not something that could easily be rolled out for general use.

The big hacks we have seen recently like Solar Winds and the ransomware attacks are down to laziness, poor security and incompetence.

The fixes for these are often quite simple and relate to people rather than tech. And if you want to, there are much easier ways to design out hacking using distributed systems. These will soon start to appear.

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