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Computer Science Colloquia

Tuesday, February 21
Ben Rodes
Advisor: John Knight
Attending Faculty: Jack Davidson, Alf Weaver, Chair and abhi Shelat

10:00 AM, Rice Hall, Rm. 404

Ph.D. Quals Presentation
Diversification of Stack Layout in Binary Programs Using Dynamic Binary Translation


Despite protracted efforts by researchers and practitioners, security vulnerabilities remain in modern software. Artificial diversity is an effective defense against many types of attack, and one form, address-space randomization, has been widely applied. Present implementations of address-space randomization are either coarse grained or require source code. We present an approach to fine-grained randomization of the stack layout that operates on x86 binary programs. Randomization is applied on a function-by-function basis. Variable ordering on the stack is randomized and random-length padding inserted between variables. Optionally, canaries can be placed in the padding regions. Transform determination is speculative: the stack layout for a function is inferred from the binary, and then assessed by executing the transformed program. If a transform changes a program's semantics, progressively less aggressive transforms are applied in sequence. We present results of applying the technique to various open source programs including details of example exploits that the technique defeated.