Ankh Morpork's Finest Coder
Monday, January 24, 2005

A history lesson in Trust Computing - Ken Thompson's Turing Award Speech.
Ken Thompson (Created UTF-8) was given a Turing Award in 1983 along with Dennis Ritchie (Creator of C), for their development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the implementation of the UNIX operating system.

This guy was far ahead of the times. In his award speech, which can be found here, he talked about trojans. this is back in 1983!!!!

Basically, he was being given a hard time by people because they thought that he had created a backdoor that only he and Ritchie knew about that would allow them to login to any UNIX machine. In his speech, he basically said, No I didn't do that, after all the source code for unix is available for free and people have looked at it.

Then he goes on to say, if I did want to do that, I'd have written a trojan code injector into the C compiler so that when the unix source was compiled it would add the backdoor to it. But then again, the C code was made available and many geeks had already gone through it so in fact he hadn't done that either.

Then he said, I could have created a trojan code injector so that when it saw that you were compiling a C program, it would add the code to add trojans into programs. Of course, since C was used to compile C, and since I could have thrown away the code, you would NEVER know whether I did indeed do that or not.

Amazing guy! Far far ahead of his times. But you should definately go read that article. Its called Reflecting on Trusting Trust.


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