What if a virus were a shapeshifter, able to change its appearance each time it infects a machine? What if a virus used your own files against you, able to ransack the programs on your computer for the bits of code it needs? Judging from the progress made on the Frankenstein virus, a venture sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, that may soon be a reality.
Developed by two professors at the University of Texas at Dallas, New Scientist says the Frankenstein virus is essentially a program compliler with directions about the algorithms it needs to assemble. Once unpacked and functional, it begins searching the software on your computer for the code it needs—generally taking little snippets called gadgets. These gadgets are written to perform specific actions and thus can be transposed over to another program more easily. The researchers only had the Frankenstein virus create two simple algorithms as a proof of concept, but they believe it can assemble any program, including full-scale malware.