TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Konrad Rieck: On Challenges in Defending Against Code Stylometry

  • 2024-06-24
  • Guest Professor
  • Doctoral School

We explore defenses against code stylometry, the subtle stylistic patterns in source code that can be used to identify its developer.

Konrad Rieck: On Challenges in Defending Against Code Stylometry
Picture: tomertu / stock.adobe.com


Source code often contains subtle stylistic patterns that can be used to identify its developer, an approach known as code stylometry. While a series of research has shown that code stylometry can recognize one programmer among hundreds of others, defenses against this approach have received little attention so far. In this talk, we address this research gap from two perspectives. First, we introduce a method for automatically imitating programming styles through semantic-preserving transformations. This method allows us to mislead correct identification and protect developers’ privacy. Second, however, we prove that true anonymity cannot be achieved in this way and that stylistic patterns remain in source code under realistic conditions. Our results thus underscore the need for raising awareness and further research into protecting developers’ privacy.

About Konrad Rieck

Konrad Rieck is a Professor of Computer Science at TU Berlin, where he heads the Chair of Machine Learning and Security within the Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data. Additionally, he is a Guest Professor at TU Wien. Previously, Konrad has been working at TU Braunschweig, University of Göttingen, and Fraunhofer Institute FIRST. His research interests revolve around computer security and machine learning. His group is developing novel methods for detecting computer attacks, analyzing malicious software and discovering security vulnerabilities. Moreover, the group explores the security and privacy of learning algorithms. Konrad is also interested in efficient algorithms for analyzing structured data, such as strings, trees, and graphs. His Erdős number is 3 (Müller → Jagota → Erdős) and his Bacon number is ∞. He is a very distant academic relative of Carl Friedrich Gauß (see here), although this doesn’t help when solving math problems.

About Current Trends in Computer Science

This lecture is part of the Current Trends in Computer Science Lecture Series by the TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School, where renowned guest professors hold public lectures every semester.

If you are studying with us, the lecture series can be credited as an elective course for students of master programs of computer science: 195.072 Current Trends in Computer Science. Additionally, you can join courses held by this year’s guest professors of our doctoral colleges and the TU Wien Informatics Doctoral School.

Curious about our other news? Subscribe to our news feed, calendar, or newsletter, or follow us on social media.