News: Is an Unhackable Kernel Really Possible?

Is an Unhackable Kernel Really Possible?

In an effort to prevent drones from being hacked, DARPA has been developing an "unhackable system," and seems to think they're almost there. The development team "proved" mathematically that their kernel was unhackable, and they hope to use it for more than just drones (power grids, cars, phones, pacemakers, etc.).

"Known as seL4, the kernel has a few highly secure properties: it can only do what it is designed to do; its code can't be changed without permission; and its memory and data transfers can't be read without permission."

Full story can be read on New Scientist.

But nothing is really unhackable, is it?

11 Comments

No. Nothing is unhackable , given enough time, talent and resources.

I second you on that.

-Phoenix750

no it isn't unhackable.

the reason computer bugs are created is because of human error. a computer itself is always unhackable, since a computer can only do 2 things: execute and not execute. 1 and 0.

but applications, kernels, operating systems, and whatnot, are created by humans, including the seL4 kernel. it might be really secure, but at some point one of the developers will overlook something. Humans are never pefect, and neither is the software we make.

Not to mention that there might be hardware errors aswell, since the hardware is also made by humans. but hardware errors usually don't lead to security leaks.

There have been MANY organizations that claimed they made something "unhackable". Yet time and time again, we hackers succeeded in proving them wrong.

-Phoenix750

This reminds me of Steel Mountain from Mr. Robot. The weakness there were the humans.

Programmers/humans are always the weakness in the end.

-Phoenix750

Yeah i second OTW, Who knew XP would be the most vulnerable OS on planet earth and maybe in the future Mars, And that every beginner uses XP as a playground or stepping stone. Its just time and what the future holds for us. Nothing is unhackable except it wasn't written by a human being.

This reminded me of a researcher who was able to hack the old H cards for satellite providers. They were able to chemically remove the epoxy and expose the wafer along with all its guts. From there they put a micro needle on the bus and sniffed data as it passed. Talk a about a replay attack.

Yeah, nothing is unhackable but it may require tons of $$$ and very expensive equipment. So become a scientist and work in a lab :) As tech moves forward it gets much harder but not impossible.

Let me relate this stuff to science- In science nothing such as ideal exists even though the term is used. Same goes for hacks, even though the word "unhackable" exists, but in reality nothing as unhackable exists.

As most of you said, it might be considered unhackable for today common dense. Technology develops with humans, for security to be effective it must be on the bleeding edge. Even if in future there will be a way to hack it (for an acrual reason I mean, useless devices are not worth being hacked), this may help improve security in ever day life like many researches going on recently, especially looking at IoT.

The idea that it could be mathematically 'proved' to be unhackable seems dubious.

'Unhackable' in the sense of hackers will try other things instead because the kernel is so secure, sure, but never truly unhackable.

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