An Evaluation of Static Java Bytecode Watermarks

June 10, 2010 - 20:24

The rise in the use of the Internet and bytecode languages such as Java bytecode and Microsoft's Common Intermediate Language have made copying, decompiling and disassembling software easier. The global revenue loss due to software piracy was estimated to be more than $50 billion in 2008. Watermarking is a technique which attempts to protect software by inserting copyright notices or unique indentifiers into software to prove ownership.

We evaluate the existing static watermarking systems and algorithms by using them to watermark bytecode files and then applying distortive attacks to each watermarked program by obfuscating and optimising. Our study revealed that a high proportion of watermarks were removed as a result of these transformations both in the commercial and academic watermarking systems that we tested. This is further evidence that static watermarking techniques on their own do not give sufficient protection against software piracy.

Accepted for publication at the International Conference on Computer Science and Applications 2010, part of The World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2010 (WCECS2010), held at the University of California in San Francisco. Read about my San Francisco trip.

Winner of the International Conference on Computer Science and Applications 2010 Best Student Paper Award.

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