Publication Date

Spring 2013

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science


Metamorphic software changes its internal structure across generations with its functionality remaining unchanged. Metamorphism has been employed by malware writers as a means of evading signature detection and other advanced detection strate- gies. However, code morphing also has potential security benefits, since it increases the “genetic diversity” of software. In this research, we have created a metamorphic code generator within the LLVM compiler framework. LLVM is a three-phase compiler that supports multiple source languages and target architectures. It uses a common intermediate representation (IR) bytecode in its optimizer. Consequently, any supported high-level programming language can be transformed to this IR bytecode as part of the LLVM compila- tion process. Our metamorphic generator functions at the IR bytecode level, which provides many advantages over previously developed metamorphic generators. The morphing techniques that we employ include dead code insertion—where the dead code is actually executed within the morphed code—and subroutine permutation. We have tested the effectiveness of our code morphing using hidden Markov model analysis.