Value-based program characterization and its application to software plagiarism detection

Yoon Chan Jhi, Xinran Wang, Xiaoqi Jia, Sencun Zhu, Peng Liu, Dinghao Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

82 Scopus citations


Identifying similar or identical code fragments becomes much more challenging in code theft cases where plagiarizers can use various automated code transformation techniques to hide stolen code from being detected. Previous works in this field are largely limited in that (1) most of them cannot handle advanced obfuscation techniques; (2) the methods based on source code analysis are less practical since the source code of suspicious programs is typically not available until strong evidences are collected; and (3) those depending on the features of specific operating systems or programming languages have limited applicability. Based on an observation that some critical runtime values are hard to be replaced or eliminated by semantics-preserving transformation techniques, we introduce a novel approach to dynamic characterization of executable programs. Leveraging such invariant values, our technique is resilient to various control and data obfuscation techniques. We show how the values can be extracted and refined to expose the critical values and how we can apply this runtime property to help solve problems in software plagiarism detection. We have implemented a prototype with a dynamic taint analyzer atop a generic processor emulator. Our experimental results show that the value-based method successfully discriminates 34 plagiarisms obfuscated by SandMark, plagiarisms heavily obfuscated by KlassMaster, programs obfuscated by Thicket, and executables obfuscated by Loco/Diablo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationICSE 2011 - 33rd International Conference on Software Engineering, Proceedings of the Conference
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2011
Event33rd International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2011 - Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: May 21 2011May 28 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering
ISSN (Print)0270-5257


Other33rd International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWaikiki, Honolulu, HI

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software


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