WARF: P03146US

A Novel Method for Detecting Computer Viruses


Somesh Jha, Mihai Christodorescu

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a novel approach to identifying malicious portions in a suspect computer program.
OVERVIEWIn the interconnected world of computers, malicious programs such as viruses have become an omnipresent and dangerous threat.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a novel approach to identifying malicious portions in a suspect computer program. The approach is able to detect malicious code that has been obfuscated, or disguised, by examining the function of the code rather than its “expression” as a string of instructions.

This functional analysis is made possible by a preprocessor that receives the suspect computer program and converts the program instructions into a standard form denoting their function. A detector reviews the standardized version of the suspect program against a library of standardized malicious code portions and indicates when malicious code is present in the suspect program.
  • Detection of malicious software
  • Works with binary executables, the typical form in which infected programs are received
  • Sensitive to the function of the malicious code, while largely indifferent to its expression
  • Largely indifferent to code transposition and dead code insertion
  • Can exploit conventional tools and techniques used for program analysis
  • Provides a unique functional expression of code that may be used to provide effective functional analysis
  • Shows decreased sensitivity to particular register or memory locations
  • Provides a simple mechanism for generating a standardized version that can be readily supplemented as new functional equivalents or methods of obfuscation are discovered
  • Easily implemented and augmented
  • Easily added to other detection systems for further analysis of the identified malicious code portion
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.
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