Self-monitoring Monitors

Stolfo, Salvatore; Greenbaum, Isaac; Sethumadhavan, Lakshminarasimhan

Many different monitoring systems have been created to identify system state conditions to detect or prevent a myriad of deliberate attacks, or arbitrary faults inherent in any complex system. Monitoring systems are also vulnerable to attack. A stealthy attacker can simply turn off or disable these monitoring systems without being detected; he would thus be able to perpetrate the very attacks that these systems were designed to stop. For example, many examples of virus attacks against antivirus scanners have appeared in the wild. In this paper, we present a novel technique to "monitor the monitors" in such a way that (a) unauthorized shutdowns of critical monitors are detected with high probability, (b) authorized shutdowns raise no alarm, and (c) the proper shutdown sequence for authorized shutdowns cannot be inferred from reading memory. The techniques proposed to prevent unauthorized shut down (turning off) of monitoring systems was inspired by the duality of safety technology devised to prevent unauthorized discharge (turning on) of nuclear weapons.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-026-09
Published Here
July 15, 2010