As companies and governments increasingly move their data to public cloud platforms, they frequently face a conundrum: As the original provider of information, they also need the data to live on another company's servers. At the same time, companies don't want to lose the information in their own data centers if they get hacked.

Real-time control of a computer's software may be the answer. Using a computerized trick called a Doppelganger, a computer can effectively create another computer within a database. This trick allows researchers to crash, hijack, and delete another computer from another database.

This technique, first published by on 6/3/18, is performed using Doppelganger Lite.

If you use Doppelganger Lite, it's this, not that which is loaded pic.twitter.com/VN1GrV9rde — Rick Edwards () February 23, 2020

The effect is to trick an on-premises database into thinking the actual database is loaded.

The program was described in a paper called "Doppelganger Effects: The True Implications of Direct Data Cache Manipulation" co-authored by Jacqueline Bernard of Xerox PARC, Nicholas Curcio of MESA, and Moiz Ali of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The paper was submitted to Science and was published on February 16.

Bernard and her colleagues have applied the technique to some of the world's biggest databases, including Alexa.