Visible to the public Biblio

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Zou, Changwei, Xue, Jingling.  2020.  Burn After Reading: A Shadow Stack with Microsecond-level Runtime Rerandomization for Protecting Return Addresses**Thanks to all the reviewers for their valuable comments. This research is supported by an Australian Research Council grant (DP180104069).. 2020 IEEE/ACM 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). :258–270.
Return-oriented programming (ROP) is an effective code-reuse attack in which short code sequences (i.e., gadgets) ending in a ret instruction are found within existing binaries and then executed by taking control of the call stack. The shadow stack, control flow integrity (CFI) and code (re)randomization are three popular techniques for protecting programs against return address overwrites. However, existing runtime rerandomization techniques operate on concrete return addresses, requiring expensive pointer tracking. By adding one level of indirection, we introduce BarRA, the first shadow stack mechanism that applies continuous runtime rerandomization to abstract return addresses for protecting their corresponding concrete return addresses (protected also by CFI), thus avoiding expensive pointer tracking. As a nice side-effect, BarRA naturally combines the shadow stack, CFI and runtime rerandomization in the same framework. The key novelty of BarRA, however, is that once some abstract return addresses are leaked, BarRA will enforce the burn-after-reading property by rerandomizing the mapping from the abstract to the concrete return address space in the order of microseconds instead of seconds required for rerandomizing a concrete return address space. As a result, BarRA can be used as a superior replacement for the shadow stack, as demonstrated by comparing both using the 19 C/C++ benchmarks in SPEC CPU2006 (totalling 2,047,447 LOC) and analyzing a proof-of-concept attack, provided that we can tolerate some slight binary code size increases (by an average of 29.44%) and are willing to use 8MB of dedicated memory for holding up to 220 return addresses (on a 64-bit platform). Under an information leakage attack (for some return addresses), the shadow stack is always vulnerable but BarRA is significantly more resilient (by reducing an attacker's success rate to [1/(220)] on average). In terms of the average performance overhead introduced, both are comparable: 6.09% (BarRA) vs. 5.38% (the shadow stack).
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Yan, Hua, Sui, Yulei, Chen, Shiping, Xue, Jingling.  2018.  Spatio-temporal Context Reduction: A Pointer-analysis-based Static Approach for Detecting Use-after-free Vulnerabilities. Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Software Engineering. :327–337.

Zero-day Use-After-Free (UAF) vulnerabilities are increasingly popular and highly dangerous, but few mitigations exist. We introduce a new pointer-analysis-based static analysis, CRed, for finding UAF bugs in multi-MLOC C source code efficiently and effectively. CRed achieves this by making three advances: (i) a spatio-temporal context reduction technique for scaling down soundly and precisely the exponential number of contexts that would otherwise be considered at a pair of free and use sites, (ii) a multi-stage analysis for filtering out false alarms efficiently, and (iii) a path-sensitive demand-driven approach for finding the points-to information required. We have implemented CRed in LLVM-3.8.0 and compared it with four different state-of-the-art static tools: CBMC (model checking), Clang (abstract interpretation), Coccinelle (pattern matching), and Supa (pointer analysis) using all the C test cases in Juliet Test Suite (JTS) and 10 open-source C applications. For the ground-truth validated with JTS, CRed detects all the 138 known UAF bugs as CBMC and Supa do while Clang and Coccinelle miss some bugs, with no false alarms from any tool. For practicality validated with the 10 applications (totaling 3+ MLOC), CRed reports 132 warnings including 85 bugs in 7.6 hours while the existing tools are either unscalable by terminating within 3 days only for one application (CBMC) or impractical by finding virtually no bugs (Clang and Coccinelle) or issuing an excessive number of false alarms (Supa).

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Li, Lian, Lu, Yi, Xue, Jingling.  2017.  Dynamic Symbolic Execution for Polymorphism. Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Compiler Construction. :120–130.
Symbolic execution is an important program analysis technique that provides auxiliary execution semantics to execute programs with symbolic rather than concrete values. There has been much recent interest in symbolic execution for automatic test case generation and security vulnerability detection, resulting in various tools being deployed in academia and industry. Nevertheless, (subtype or dynamic) polymorphism of object-oriented programs has been neglected: existing symbolic execution techniques can explore different targets of conditional branches but not different targets of method invocations. We address the problem of how this polymorphism can be expressed in a symbolic execution framework. We propose the notion of symbolic types, which make object types symbolic. With symbolic types,[ various targets of a method invocation can be explored systematically by mutating the type of the receiver object of the method during automatic test case generation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first attempt to address polymorphism in symbolic execution. Mutation of method invocation targets is critical for effectively testing object-oriented programs, especially libraries. Our experimental results show that symbolic types are significantly more effective than existing symbolic execution techniques in achieving test coverage and finding bugs and security vulnerabilities in OpenJDK.
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He, Dongjie, Li, Haofeng, Wang, Lei, Meng, Haining, Zheng, Hengjie, Liu, Jie, Hu, Shuangwei, Li, Lian, Xue, Jingling.  2019.  Performance-Boosting Sparsification of the IFDS Algorithm with Applications to Taint Analysis. 2019 34th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering (ASE). :267–279.
The IFDS algorithm can be compute-and memoryintensive for some large programs, often running for a long time (more than expected) or terminating prematurely after some time and/or memory budgets have been exhausted. In the latter case, the corresponding IFDS data-flow analyses may suffer from false negatives and/or false positives. To improve this, we introduce a sparse alternative to the traditional IFDS algorithm. Instead of propagating the data-flow facts across all the program points along the program’s (interprocedural) control flow graph, we propagate every data-flow fact directly to its next possible use points along its own sparse control flow graph constructed on the fly, thus reducing significantly both the time and memory requirements incurred by the traditional IFDS algorithm. In our evaluation, we compare FLOWDROID, a taint analysis performed by using the traditional IFDS algorithm, with our sparse incarnation, SPARSEDROID, on a set of 40 Android apps selected. For the time budget (5 hours) and memory budget (220GB) allocated per app, SPARSEDROID can run every app to completion but FLOWDROID terminates prematurely for 9 apps, resulting in an average speedup of 22.0x. This implies that when used as a market-level vetting tool, SPARSEDROID can finish analyzing these 40 apps in 2.13 hours (by issuing 228 leak warnings) while FLOWDROID manages to analyze only 30 apps in the same time period (by issuing only 147 leak warnings).
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Fan, Xiaokang, Sui, Yulei, Liao, Xiangke, Xue, Jingling.  2017.  Boosting the Precision of Virtual Call Integrity Protection with Partial Pointer Analysis for C++. Proceedings of the 26th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis. :329–340.

We present, VIP, an approach to boosting the precision of Virtual call Integrity Protection for large-scale real-world C++ programs (e.g., Chrome) by using pointer analysis for the first time. VIP introduces two new techniques: (1) a sound and scalable partial pointer analysis for discovering statically the sets of legitimate targets at virtual callsites from separately compiled C++ modules and (2) a lightweight instrumentation technique for performing (virtual call) integrity checks at runtime. VIP raises the bar against vtable hijacking attacks by providing stronger security guarantees than the CHA-based approach with comparable performance overhead. VIP is implemented in LLVM-3.8.0 and evaluated using SPEC programs and Chrome. Statically, VIP protects virtual calls more effectively than CHA by significantly reducing the sets of legitimate targets permitted at 20.3% of the virtual callsites per program, on average. Dynamically, VIP incurs an average (maximum) instrumentation overhead of 0.7% (3.3%), making it practically deployable as part of a compiler tool chain.