Towards Automated Discovery of Crash-Resistant Primitives in Binaries

Benjamin Kollenda, Enes Goktas, Tim Blazytko, Philipp Koppe, Robert Gawlik, R.K. Konoth, Cristiano Giuffrida, Herbert Bo, Thorsten Holz

IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN)


—Many modern defenses rely on address space layout randomization (ASLR) to efficiently hide security-sensitive metadata in the address space. Absent implementation flaws, an attacker can only bypass such defenses by repeatedly probing the address space for mapped (security-sensitive) regions, incurring a noisy application crash on any wrong guess. Recent work shows that modern applications contain idioms that allow the construction of crash-resistant code primitives, allowing an attacker to efficiently probe the address space without causing any visible crash.

In this paper, we classify different crash-resistant primitives and show that this problem is much more prominent than previously assumed. More specifically, we show that rather than relying on labor-intensive source code inspection to find a few “hidden” application-specific primitives, an attacker can find such primitives semi-automatically, on many classes of real-world programs, at the binary level. To support our claims, we develop methods to locate such primitives in real-world binaries. We successfully identified 29 new potential primitives and constructed proof-of-concept exploits for four of them


Tags: attack, Code-reuse