The University of Michigan, USA, announced last week that no cybersecurity expert had access to a database protected by the Morpheus chip, designed by researchers at the institution to resist attacks exactly like an immune system. The University had invited 500 experts to try to break into the computer, putting a check for $ 50,000 that no one took as a prize.
Morpheus was built by a professor and a group of graduate students in six years and was put to tests from June to August last year in a competition called FETT (“finding exploits to thwart tampering” or “finding exploits to prevent adulteration ”), organized by the United States Department of Defense. “What our chip does is really protect the software from hackers,” said Todd Austin, the professor who led the project.
Because of Morpheus’s success in thwarting hackers, Austin and another colleague plan to look for resources to turn the chip into a startup.
“What is really unique about Morpheus is that he can stop attacks that he doesn’t know about,” said Austin. “If he notices that someone is attacking, he starts to change very, very fast … and that makes it difficult for attackers, because one thing they need to do is understand how the system is built.” Austin said the idea of making Morpheus change all the time came from the human immune system. Whenever the human body notices the entry of a virus, the immune system immediately goes into a specialized attack to try to get rid of it.
Morpheus, says the professor, also goes into defense mode when attacked. Rather than the research team creating a fixed defense for a very specific cyber attack, Morpheus changes its encoding every 100 milliseconds whenever it detects an attack, making it almost impossible for a hacker to have time to learn its technology.
“What was really good about working with DARPA is that they put all the money into encouraging all of these attackers to test our security claims, and in the end, no one was able to penetrate Morpheus,” said Austin.
With international news agencies
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