Reflections on Trusting Trust

The more nerdy among you will probably find Reflections on Trusting Trust by Ken Thompson an interesting read.

I stumbled across it while reading up on the the first Underhanded C Contest featured both on Slashdot and LtU.

From the article:
The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code. In demonstrating the possibility of this kind of attack, I picked on the C compiler. I could have picked on any program-handling program such as an assembler, a loader, or even hardware microcode. 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.



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