Computers Tell All

Computer operation systems are supposed to prevent any program from looking at the data stored by another. But sometimes programs share the same cache, compromising the security of whatever data they contain.

An article on provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that even users who practice responsible computing – by not clicking on suspect links in e-mails, and faithfully downloading security patches and software upgrades – may be much more vulnerable than they realize. In seconds, a motivated hacker could extract the private key that unlocks the door to a computer user’s private information, including credit card number and bank account password.

Eran Tromer, who demonstrated in 2005 with his colleagues at Israel’s Weizmann Institute that a seemingly harmless computer program could eavesdrop on other programs, has since tried to develop ways to thwart such attacks. His research team recently announced a proof-of-concept prototype of a defense system but will further refine and test it before publishing any papers, the article says.

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