[erlang-questions] Re: reverse engineering beam files / obfuscation ?

Alpar Juttner <>
Mon Feb 15 12:20:09 CET 2010


Sorry, but I can't understand the story.

I understand that you had a secret idea implemented in Quintus, but it
has never been published. Someone else was about to publish the same
idea. They had a copy of Quintus but not the its source. You assumed the
idea was taken from Quintus, thus you precluded them from publishing the
idea.

But could you _prove_ somehow that they stole the idea from Quintus or
did you just suspect it? If it was just a suspicion, you'd better not be
so proud of this story.

In addition, review of a paper is normally done by an independent
reviewer, who must handle the paper confidentially. How did you get a
copy of the paper under review?

Regards,
Alpar


On Mon, 2010-02-15 at 14:15 +1300, Richard O'Keefe wrote:
> Quintus faced this issue many years ago now.
> 
> There is _nothing_ you can do to stop a sufficiently determined
> cracker.  Here's an anecdote.
> 
> (1) The Quintus emulator was shipped as an executable binary with
>      (a) most but not all of the C symbols stripped
>      (b) many but not all of the atoms used in the Prolog system
>          clobbered (things users were _supposed_ to be able to mention
>          were preserved, everything else smashed).
>      (c) we had a special in-house-ONLY tool for restoring the smashed  
> names.
> (2) Full *and* demo versions of Quintus Prolog were handed out after the
>      purchaser signed a contract saying, amongst other things, that they
>      would not disassemble the system.
> (3) One organisation that got a free demo copy of Quintus Prolog was a
>      large software company with a Prolog of their own.  (Fair enough,
>      we had a demo copy of their system at one time.)
> (4) They attempted to publish in a conference a paper detailing
>      implementation techniques that were used, to the best of our  
> knowledge,
>      only in Quintus Prolog.  Judging from what some of the people  
> from that
>      company had said previously, they had not then been using these
>      techniques themselves.
> (5) We informed the conference, and the paper was not published.
> 
> The need to disassemble MC68020 instructions hadn't stopped them.
> A contract saying they wouldn't reverse engineer hadn't stopped them.
> 
> At least if it's in the contract the crackers will KNOW they are
> doing something wrong, not just difficult.
> 
> 
> 
> 
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