Software Self-Healing Using Collaborative Application Communities

Locasto, Michael E.; Sidiroglou, Stelios; Keromytis, Angelos D.

Software monocultures are usually considered dangerous because their size and uniformity represent the potential for costly and widespread damage. The emerging concept of collaborative security provides the opportunity to re-examine the utility of software monoculture by exploiting the homogeneity and scale that typically define large software monocultures. Monoculture can be leveraged to improve an application‘s overall security and reliability. We introduce and explore the concept of Application Communities: collections of large numbers of independent instances of the same application. Members of an application community share the burden of monitoring for flaws and attacks, and notify the rest of the community when such are detected. Appropriate mitigation mechanisms are then deployed against the newly discovered fault. We explore the concept of an application community and determine its feasibility through analytical modeling and a prototype implementation focusing on software faults and vulnerabilities. Specifically, we identify a set of parameters that define application communities and explore the tradeoffs between the minimal size of an application community, the marginal overhead imposed on each member, and the speed with which new faults are detected and isolated. We demonstrate the feasibility of the scheme using Selective Transactional EMulation (STEM) as both the monitoring and remediation mechanism for low-level software faults, and provide some preliminary experimental results using the Apache web server as the protected application. Our experiments show that ACs are practical and feasible for current applications: an AC of 15,000 members can collaboratively monitor Apache for new faults and immunize all members against them with only a 6% performance degradation for each member.



Also Published In

2006 Network and Distributed System Security Symposium:
February 2-3, 2006, San Diego, California: Proceedings
Internet Society

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Academic Units
Computer Science
Published Here
July 6, 2012