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Metamorphism, Formal Grammars and Undecidable Code Mutation

Eric Filiol
International Journal of Computer Science, vol. 2, number 1, 2007, pp. 70-75
ISSN 1306-4428
April 2007

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This paper presents a formalisation of the different existing code mutation techniques (polymorphism and metamorphism) by means of formal grammars. While very few theoretical results are known about the detection complexity of viral mutation techniques, we exhaustively address this critical issue by considering the Chomsky classification of formal grammars. This enables us to determine which family of code mutation techniques are likely to be detected or on the contrary are bound to remain undetected. As an illustration we then present, on a formal basis, a proof-of-concept metamorphic mutation engine denoted PB MOT, whose detection has been proven to be undecidable.

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