GrammaTech Awarded AFRL/OSD Research Grant to Investigate Defenses Against Reverse Engineering

January 19, 2004

Ithaca, NY — GrammaTech, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) research contract by the Air Force and the Office Of The Secretary Of Defense (OSD).

Existing software systems face the threat of reverse engineering. Given enough time and resources, a determined hacker can recover the design of a software program by examining its binary. The consequences of this can be dramatic: the hacker may gain unauthorized access to sensitive computer systems, allowing him to wreak untold havoc. At worst, this may allow him to compromise national security, or to perpetrate a terrorist attack. A more common result is for the hacker to "crack" software protection, thereby enabling illegal and widespread dissemination of the intellectual property rights found in, or protected by, the hacked software.

Under an AFRL/OSD SBIR grant, GrammaTech is investigating tools and techniques for reverse engineering, as well as innovative defenses that prevent reverse engineering. To accomplish this work, GrammaTech is drawing on its expertise in static analysis, expertise in dynamic analysis, and experience building code understanding tools for C/C++ and x86 binaries. The commercial potential for strong software protection is significant. Software companies lose billions of dollars to software piracy. Furthermore, techniques and tools that offer protection against reverse engineering would be invaluable for increasing the security of software systems. Thus, there are both DoD and commercial applications.

About GrammaTech:
GrammaTech's static-analysis tools are used worldwide by startups, Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. The staff includes fourteen researchers with PhDs in programming languages and program analysis.

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