A chip developed at the University of Michigan called MORPHEUS could be used sometime soon to essentially eliminate vulnerable attacks. MORPHEUS could easily replace the current computer chip processors, making their security patches and bug fixes obsolete.  Researchers demonstrated the new chip at the 24th ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS) in Providence, Rhode Island on April 16th.


The computer chip, MORPHEUS protects the system against vulnerable attacks by re-organizing bits of important data hiding it from exploitation. Pic not too related, I just liked it.

Blocking out attacks from hackers works by encrypting and reorganizing small and important parts of its data and code 20 times per second, which is thousands of times quicker than other electronic hacking methods. 


Since there is always new code being written by programmers and hackers alike, newer bugs and vulnerabilities will always pop up. MORPHEUS could be the solution to a future proof secure system, given it how operates. The system eliminates any type of vulnerable data it may detect in only 50 milliseconds before a hacker can find the data they would exploit. The team behind MORPHEUS' design have implemented a DARPA-funded prototype computer processor that protects the system against every control-flow attack, an attack that's potent and well-known amongst hackers.


MORPHEUS could be used in a wide range of daily applications, including laptops, PCs, Internet of Things devices, and many more devices where applicable. The need for highly potent and advanced security of MORPHEUS' capabilities will be in demand and will be a critical necessity.  Rather than using software releases to patch vulnerabilities in a system, MORPHEUS has the security hardcoded into its hardware. This method makes it impossible to search for and take advantage of any known vulnerabilities. By using a process called "churn," it continually randomizes program assets, like the code to prevent any exploitation.


The computer chip mainly focuses on randomizing bits of data called "undefined semantics," making it transparent to both programmers and end users. The undefined semantics is what the computing architecture is made of, which is the location, format, and content of the program's code. Undefined semantics are also part of the processor's basic machinery, which is what hackers use to exploit any weaknesses in the system and from there, they can launch an attack.


The churn rate can be increased or decreased to maintain the right balance between resource usage and implementing the highest level of security within the system. Churn rates of once every 50 milliseconds were used for the demonstration processor because of its speed. It's several thousand times faster than the quickest hacking technique and performance levels are only brought down by 1%. The chip also has an attack detector installed in it that searches for potential attacks, increasing the churn rate if it detects an incoming attack.


The chip is a RISC-V processor, which is a common chip design that's open source and used for research. Agita Labs, a startup company will be looking to commercialize the chip.


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