Don’t you just hate when a new software title comes out, and within a week some hacker has figured out where the hole in the code is? Those darn zero-day vulnerabilities! Fortunately, a new program might make weak code a thing of the past, and put a serious dent in hacking.

malware hidden in computer code

If you imagine a software title or a website as a giant spinning carousel, these holes and vulnerabilities appear in a rhythmic pattern every time that carousel circles back around. Someone who’s looking for them just has to watch for them. But with a new software called Shuffler, the horses on the carousel change position every few microseconds, meaning the code that powers the software is restructured every few moments, making it impossible to find any of the potential flaws.

According to the study’s lead author, Columbia Engineering graduate student David Williams-King, “Shuffler makes it nearly impossible to turn a bug into a functioning attack, defending software developers from their mistakes. Attackers are unable to figure out the program’s layout if the code keeps changing.”

There are some things to know about Shuffler, at least in its current state. Yes, it can potentially slow down the processing speed by as much as 15%, but the authors of the study have stated that is really only a factor in “computation-heavy processes.” The other is that, while it’s not yet available for use, the engineers behind it see this program being used by virtually everyone, from software developers who incorporate it into their programs to lower-level public tech users who just want to be careful about cybersecurity. That means be watching for the day when a Shuffler smartphone app or browser plug-in is as steamlined as using a VPN or encryption software.

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