The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'c'
Dennis M. Ritchie (better known, as many of the ancients were, by his UNIX login, in this case, dmr) has reportedly passed away in Murray Hill, New Jersey, after a long illness. Ritchie was, of course, co-inventor (with Brian Kernighan) of the C programming language (in which a huge proportion of the world's software is written, and which influenced a lot of other languages, from direct descendants like C++ and Objective C to every language which uses C-like syntax), and co-creator (with Ken Thompson) of the UNIX operating system (originally started as a personal project, and now the architectural template for everything from the internet server which is sending you this web page to, quite probably, your mobile phone). Ritchie's influence on the technologies on which our world is built is huge.
AT&T has released what could be the world's first truly post-9/11 programming language: a language designed for large-scale communications surveillance. The Hancock programming language, unsurprisingly, resembles a much earlier AT&T/Bell Labs innovation, C, in style and is designed for sifting through gigabytes of telephone and internet records, looking for things of interest. Examples given in the documentation include scripts for finding all packets to or from an address of interest, and for tracking a person's movements by checking which cell towers their mobile phone connected to during the day. And there's good news for hobbyists wanting to run their own model surveillance agency in their garage: the source code and binaries are free for noncommercial use.
The famous paper by Ken Thompson (the creator of the original UNIX), in which he describes his infamous self-perpetuating C compiler/login trojan horse.
The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself... No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code... As the level of program gets lower, these bugs will be harder and harder to detect. A well installed microcode bug will be almost impossible to detect.