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Heisenbyte: Thwarting Memory Disclosure Attacks using Destructive Code Reads

Tang, Adrian; Sethumadhavan, Simha; Stolfo, Salvatore

Vulnerabilities that disclose executable memory pages enable a new class of powerful code reuse attacks that build the attack payload at runtime. In this work, we present Heisenbyte, a system to protect against memory disclosure attacks. Central to Heisenbyte is the concept of destructive code reads – code is garbled right after it is read. Garbling the code after reading it takes away from the attacker her ability to leverage memory disclosure bugs in both static code and dynamically generated just-in-time code. By leveraging existing virtualization support, Heisenbyte’s novel use of destructive code reads sidesteps the problem of incomplete binary disassembly in binaries, and extends protection to close-sourced COTS binaries, which are two major limitations of prior solutions against memory disclosure vulnerabilities. Our experiments demonstrate that Heisenbyte can tolerate some degree of imperfect static analysis in disassembled binaries, while effectively thwarting dynamic code reuse exploits in both static and JIT code, at a modest 1.8% average runtime overhead due to virtualization and 16.5% average overhead due to the destructive code reads.


Also Published In

Proceedings of the 22nd ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
NY Association for Computing Machinery

More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Published Here
May 9, 2016