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Salles-Loustau, G., Garcia, L., Sun, P., Dehnavi, M., Zonouz, S..  2017.  Power Grid Safety Control via Fine-Grained Multi-Persona Programmable Logic Controllers. 2017 IEEE International Conference on Smart Grid Communications (SmartGridComm). :283–288.

Trustworthy and safe operation of the power grid critical infrastructures relies on secure execution of low-level substation controller devices such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Currently, there are very few security protection solutions deployed on these devices to ensure provenance control: to execute controller code on the device that is developed by trusted parties and complies with safety/security policies that are defined by the code developer as well as the power grid operators. Resource-limited PLC controllers have been becoming increasingly popular among not only legitimate system operators, but also malicious adversaries such as the most recent Stuxnet and BlackEnergy malware that caused various damages such as unauthorized infrastructural safety and integrity violations. We present PLCtrust, a domain-specific solution that deploys virtual micro security-perimeters, so-called capsules, and the corresponding device-level runtime power system-safety policy enforcement dynamically. PLCtrust makes use of data taint analysis to monitor and control data flow among the capsules based on data owner-defined policies. PLCtrust provides the operators with a transparent and lightweight solution to address various safety-critical data protection requirements. PLCtrust also provides the legitimate third-party controller code developers with a taint-aware programming interface to develop applications in compliance with the dynamic power system safety/security policies. Our experimental results on real-world settings show that PLCtrust is transparent to the end-users while ensuring the power grid safety maintenance with minimal performance overhead.

Sun, P., Garcia, L., Salles-Loustau, G., Zonouz, S..  2020.  Hybrid Firmware Analysis for Known Mobile and IoT Security Vulnerabilities. 2020 50th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN). :373—384.

Mobile and IoT operating systems–and their ensuing software updates–are usually distributed as binary files. Given that these binary files are commonly closed source, users or businesses who want to assess the security of the software need to rely on reverse engineering. Further, verifying the correct application of the latest software patches in a given binary is an open problem. The regular application of software patches is a central pillar for improving mobile and IoT device security. This requires developers, integrators, and vendors to propagate patches to all affected devices in a timely and coordinated fashion. In practice, vendors follow different and sometimes improper security update agendas for both mobile and IoT products. Moreover, previous studies revealed the existence of a hidden patch gap: several vendors falsely reported that they patched vulnerabilities. Therefore, techniques to verify whether vulnerabilities have been patched or not in a given binary are essential. Deep learning approaches have shown to be promising for static binary analyses with respect to inferring binary similarity as well as vulnerability detection. However, these approaches fail to capture the dynamic behavior of these systems, and, as a result, they may inundate the analysis with false positives when performing vulnerability discovery in the wild. In particular, they cannot capture the fine-grained characteristics necessary to distinguish whether a vulnerability has been patched or not. In this paper, we present PATCHECKO, a vulnerability and patch presence detection framework for executable binaries. PATCHECKO relies on a hybrid, cross-platform binary code similarity analysis that combines deep learning-based static binary analysis with dynamic binary analysis. PATCHECKO does not require access to the source code of the target binary nor that of vulnerable functions. We evaluate PATCHECKO on the most recent Google Pixel 2 smartphone and the Android Things IoT firmware images, within which 25 known CVE vulnerabilities have been previously reported and patched. Our deep learning model shows a vulnerability detection accuracy of over 93%. We further prune the candidates found by the deep learning stage–which includes false positives–via dynamic binary analysis. Consequently, PATCHECKO successfully identifies the correct matches among the candidate functions in the top 3 ranked outcomes 100% of the time. Furthermore, PATCHECKO's differential engine distinguishes between functions that are still vulnerable and those that are patched with an accuracy of 96%.