Visible to the public Biblio

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A
Zia, Tanveer, Liu, Peng, Han, Weili.  2017.  Application-Specific Digital Forensics Investigative Model in Internet of Things (IoT). Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security. :55:1–55:7.

Besides its enormous benefits to the industry and community the Internet of Things (IoT) has introduced unique security challenges to its enablers and adopters. As the trend in cybersecurity threats continue to grow, it is likely to influence IoT deployments. Therefore it is eminent that besides strengthening the security of IoT systems we develop effective digital forensics techniques that when breaches occur we can track the sources of attacks and bring perpetrators to the due process with reliable digital evidence. The biggest challenge in this regard is the heterogeneous nature of devices in IoT systems and lack of unified standards. In this paper we investigate digital forensics from IoT perspectives. We argue that besides traditional digital forensics practices it is important to have application-specific forensics in place to ensure collection of evidence in context of specific IoT applications. We consider top three IoT applications and introduce a model which deals with not just traditional forensics but is applicable in digital as well as application-specific forensics process. We believe that the proposed model will enable collection, examination, analysis and reporting of forensically sound evidence in an IoT application-specific digital forensics investigation.

C
Wang, Kai, Zhang, Yuqing, Liu, Peng.  2016.  Call Me Back!: Attacks on System Server and System Apps in Android Through Synchronous Callback. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :92–103.

Android is the most commonly used mobile device operation system. The core of Android, the System Server (SS), is a multi-threaded process that provides most of the system services. Based on a new understanding of the security risks introduced by the callback mechanism in system services, we have discovered a general type of design flaw. A vulnerability detection tool has been designed and implemented based on static taint analysis. We applied the tool on all the 80 system services in the SS of Android 5.1.0. With its help, we have discovered six previously unknown vulnerabilities, which are further confirmed on Android 2.3.7-6.0.1. According to our analysis, about 97.3% of the entire 1.4 billion real-world Android devices are vulnerable. Our proof-of-concept attack proves that the vulnerabilities can enable a malicious app to freeze critical system functionalities or soft-reboot the system immediately. It is a neat type of denial-of-service at-tack. We also proved that the attacks can be conducted at mission critical moments to achieve meaningful goals, such as anti anti-virus, anti process-killer, hindering app updates or system patching. After being informed, Google confirmed our findings promptly. Several suggestions on how to use callbacks safely are also proposed to Google.

Xu, Jun, Mu, Dongliang, Chen, Ping, Xing, Xinyu, Wang, Pei, Liu, Peng.  2016.  CREDAL: Towards Locating a Memory Corruption Vulnerability with Your Core Dump. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :529–540.

After a program has crashed and terminated abnormally, it typically leaves behind a snapshot of its crashing state in the form of a core dump. While a core dump carries a large amount of information, which has long been used for software debugging, it barely serves as informative debugging aids in locating software faults, particularly memory corruption vulnerabilities. A memory corruption vulnerability is a special type of software faults that an attacker can exploit to manipulate the content at a certain memory. As such, a core dump may contain a certain amount of corrupted data, which increases the difficulty in identifying useful debugging information (e.g. , a crash point and stack traces). Without a proper mechanism to deal with this problem, a core dump can be practically useless for software failure diagnosis. In this work, we develop CREDAL, an automatic tool that employs the source code of a crashing program to enhance core dump analysis and turns a core dump to an informative aid in tracking down memory corruption vulnerabilities. Specifically, CREDAL systematically analyzes a core dump potentially corrupted and identifies the crash point and stack frames. For a core dump carrying corrupted data, it goes beyond the crash point and stack trace. In particular, CREDAL further pinpoints the variables holding corrupted data using the source code of the crashing program along with the stack frames. To assist software developers (or security analysts) in tracking down a memory corruption vulnerability, CREDAL also performs analysis and highlights the code fragments corresponding to data corruption. To demonstrate the utility of CREDAL, we use it to analyze 80 crashes corresponding to 73 memory corruption vulnerabilities archived in Offensive Security Exploit Database. We show that, CREDAL can accurately pinpoint the crash point and (fully or partially) restore a stack trace even though a crashing program stack carries corrupted data. In addition, we demonstrate CREDAL can potentially reduce the manual effort of finding the code fragment that is likely to contain memory corruption vulnerabilities.

E
Wang, Yuze, Han, Tao, Han, Xiaoxia, Liu, Peng.  2019.  Ensemble-Learning-Based Hardware Trojans Detection Method by Detecting the Trigger Nets. 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS). :1–5.

With the globalization of integrated circuit (IC) design and manufacturing, malicious third-party vendors can easily insert hardware Trojans into their intellect property (IP) cores during IC design phase, threatening the security of IC systems. It is strongly required to develop hardware-Trojan detection methods especially for the IC design phase. As the particularity of Trigger nets in Trojan circuits, in this paper, we propose an ensemble-learning-based hardware-Trojan detection method by detecting the Trigger nets at the gate level. We extract the Trigger-net features for each net from known netlists and use the ensemble learning method to train two detection models according to the Trojan types. The detection models are used to identify suspicious Trigger nets in an unknown detected netlist and give results of suspiciousness values for each detected net. By flagging the top n% suspicious nets of each detection model as the suspicious Trigger nets based on the suspiciousness values, the proposed method can achieve, on average, 88% true positive rate, 90% true negative rate, and 90% Accuracy.

F
Liu, Peng, Zhao, Siqi, Li, Songbin.  2017.  Facial Expression Recognition Based On Hierarchical Feature Learning. Proceedings of the 2017 2Nd International Conference on Communication and Information Systems. :309–313.

Facial expression recognition is a challenging problem in the field of computer vision. In this paper, we propose a deep learning approach that can learn the joint low-level and high-level features of human face to resolve this problem. Our deep neural networks utilize convolution and downsampling to extract the abstract and local features of human face, and reconstruct the raw input images to learn global features as supplementary information at the same time. We also add an adjustable weight in the networks when combining the two kinds of features for the final classification. The experimental results show that the proposed method can achieve good results, which has an average recognition accuracy of 93.65% on the test datasets.

Huang, Jian, Xu, Jun, Xing, Xinyu, Liu, Peng, Qureshi, Moinuddin K..  2017.  FlashGuard: Leveraging Intrinsic Flash Properties to Defend Against Encryption Ransomware. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :2231–2244.

Encryption ransomware is a malicious software that stealthily encrypts user files and demands a ransom to provide access to these files. Several prior studies have developed systems to detect ransomware by monitoring the activities that typically occur during a ransomware attack. Unfortunately, by the time the ransomware is detected, some files already undergo encryption and the user is still required to pay a ransom to access those files. Furthermore, ransomware variants can obtain kernel privilege, which allows them to terminate software-based defense systems, such as anti-virus. While periodic backups have been explored as a means to mitigate ransomware, such backups incur storage overheads and are still vulnerable as ransomware can obtain kernel privilege to stop or destroy backups. Ideally, we would like to defend against ransomware without relying on software-based solutions and without incurring the storage overheads of backups. To that end, this paper proposes FlashGuard, a ransomware tolerant Solid State Drive (SSD) which has a firmware-level recovery system that allows quick and effective recovery from encryption ransomware without relying on explicit backups. FlashGuard leverages the observation that the existing SSD already performs out-of-place writes in order to mitigate the long erase latency of flash memories. Therefore, when a page is updated or deleted, the older copy of that page is anyway present in the SSD. FlashGuard slightly modifies the garbage collection mechanism of the SSD to retain the copies of the data encrypted by ransomware and ensure effective data recovery. Our experiments with 1,447 manually labeled ransomware samples show that FlashGuard can efficiently restore files encrypted by ransomware. In addition, we demonstrate that FlashGuard has a negligible impact on the performance and lifetime of the SSD.

H
Han, Tao, Wang, Yuze, Liu, Peng.  2019.  Hardware Trojans Detection at Register Transfer Level Based on Machine Learning. 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS). :1–5.

To accurately detect Hardware Trojans in integrated circuits design process, a machine-learning-based detection method at the register transfer level (RTL) is proposed. In this method, circuit features are extracted from the RTL source codes and a training database is built using circuits in a Hardware Trojans library. The training database is used to train an efficient detection model based on the gradient boosting algorithm. In order to expand the Hardware Trojans library for detecting new types of Hardware Trojans and update the detection model in time, a server-client mechanism is used. The proposed method can achieve 100% true positive rate and 89% true negative rate, on average, based on the benchmark from Trust-Hub.

I
Li, Xianxian, Luo, Chunfeng, Liu, Peng, Wang, Li-e.  2019.  Information Entropy Differential Privacy: A Differential Privacy Protection Data Method Based on Rough Set Theory. 2019 IEEE Intl Conf on Dependable, Autonomic and Secure Computing, Intl Conf on Pervasive Intelligence and Computing, Intl Conf on Cloud and Big Data Computing, Intl Conf on Cyber Science and Technology Congress (DASC/PiCom/CBDCom/CyberSciTech). :918–923.

Data have become an important asset for analysis and behavioral prediction, especially correlations between data. Privacy protection has aroused academic and social concern given the amount of personal sensitive information involved in data. However, existing works assume that the records are independent of each other, which is unsuitable for associated data. Many studies either fail to achieve privacy protection or lead to excessive loss of information while applying data correlations. Differential privacy, which achieves privacy protection by injecting random noise into the statistical results given the correlation, will improve the background knowledge of adversaries. Therefore, this paper proposes an information entropy differential privacy solution for correlation data privacy issues based on rough set theory. Under the solution, we use rough set theory to measure the degree of association between attributes and use information entropy to quantify the sensitivity of the attribute. The information entropy difference privacy is achieved by clustering based on the correlation and adding personalized noise to each cluster while preserving the correlations between data. Experiments show that our algorithm can effectively preserve the correlation between the attributes while protecting privacy.

O
Hu, Zhisheng, Zhu, Minghui, Liu, Peng.  2017.  Online Algorithms for Adaptive Cyber Defense on Bayesian Attack Graphs. Proceedings of the 2017 Workshop on Moving Target Defense. :99–109.

Emerging zero-day vulnerabilities in information and communications technology systems make cyber defenses very challenging. In particular, the defender faces uncertainties of; e.g., system states and the locations and the impacts of vulnerabilities. In this paper, we study the defense problem on a computer network that is modeled as a partially observable Markov decision process on a Bayesian attack graph. We propose online algorithms which allow the defender to identify effective defense policies when utility functions are unknown a priori. The algorithm performance is verified via numerical simulations based on real-world attacks.

P
Guan, Le, Cao, Chen, Zhu, Sencun, Lin, Jingqiang, Liu, Peng, Xia, Yubin, Luo, Bo.  2019.  Protecting mobile devices from physical memory attacks with targeted encryption. Proceedings of the 12th Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks. :34–44.
Sensitive data in a process could be scattered over the memory of a computer system for a prolonged period of time. Unfortunately, DRAM chips were proven insecure in previous studies. The problem becomes worse in the mobile environment, in which users' smartphones are easily lost or stolen. The powered-on phones may contain sensitive data in the vulnerable DRAM chips. In this paper, we propose MemVault, a mechanism to protect sensitive data in Android devices against physical memory attacks. MemVault keeps track of the propagation of well-marked sensitive data sources, and selectively encrypts tainted sensitive memory contents in the DRAM chip. When a tainted object is accessed, MemVault redirects the access to the internal RAM (iRAM), where the cipher-text object is decrypted transparently. iRAM is a system-on-chip (SoC) component which is by nature immune to physical memory exploits. We have implemented a MemVault prototype system, and have evaluated it with extensive experiments. Our results validate that MemVault effectively eliminates the occurrences of clear-text sensitive objects in DRAM chips, and imposes acceptable overheads.
R
Choi, Seok-Hwan, Shin, Jin-Myeong, Liu, Peng, Choi, Yoon-Ho.  2019.  Robustness Analysis of CNN-based Malware Family Classification Methods Against Various Adversarial Attacks. 2019 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security (CNS). :1—6.

As malware family classification methods, image-based classification methods have attracted much attention. Especially, due to the fast classification speed and the high classification accuracy, Convolutional Neural Network (CNN)-based malware family classification methods have been studied. However, previous studies on CNN-based classification methods focused only on improving the classification accuracy of malware families. That is, previous studies did not consider the cases that the accuracy of CNN-based malware classification methods can be decreased under the existence of adversarial attacks. In this paper, we analyze the robustness of various CNN-based malware family classification models under adversarial attacks. While adding imperceptible non-random perturbations to the input image, we measured how the accuracy of the CNN-based malware family classification model can be affected. Also, we showed the influence of three significant visualization parameters(i.e., the size of input image, dimension of input image, and conversion color of a special character)on the accuracy variation under adversarial attacks. From the evaluation results using the Microsoft malware dataset, we showed that even the accuracy over 98% of the CNN-based malware family classification method can be decreased to less than 7%.

S
Chen, Bo, Jia, Shijie, Xia, Luning, Liu, Peng.  2016.  Sanitizing Data is Not Enough!: Towards Sanitizing Structural Artifacts in Flash Media. Proceedings of the 32Nd Annual Conference on Computer Security Applications. :496–507.

Conventional overwriting-based and encryption-based secure deletion schemes can only sanitize data. However, the past existence of the deleted data may leave artifacts in the layout at all layers of a computing system. These structural artifacts may be utilized by the adversary to infer sensitive information about the deleted data or even to fully recover them. The conventional secure deletion solutions unfortunately cannot sanitize them. In this work, we introduce truly secure deletion, a novel security notion that is much stronger than the conventional secure deletion. Truly secure deletion requires sanitizing both the obsolete data as well as the corresponding structural artifacts, so that the resulting storage layout after a delete operation is indistinguishable from that the deleted data never appeared. We propose TedFlash, a Truly secure deletion scheme for Flash-based block devices. TedFlash can successfully sanitize both the data and the structural artifacts, while satisfying the design constraints imposed for flash memory. Security analysis and experimental evaluation show that TedFlash can achieve the truly secure deletion guarantee with a small additional overhead compared to conventional secure deletion solutions.

Ming, Jiang, Wu, Dinghao, Wang, Jun, Xiao, Gaoyao, Liu, Peng.  2016.  StraightTaint: Decoupled Offline Symbolic Taint Analysis. Proceedings of the 31st IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering. :308–319.

Taint analysis has been widely applied in ex post facto security applications, such as attack provenance investigation, computer forensic analysis, and reverse engineering. Unfortunately, the high runtime overhead imposed by dynamic taint analysis makes it impractical in many scenarios. The key obstacle is the strict coupling of program execution and taint tracking logic code. To alleviate this performance bottleneck, recent work seeks to offload taint analysis from program execution and run it on a spare core or a different CPU. However, since the taint analysis has heavy data and control dependencies on the program execution, the massive data in recording and transformation overshadow the benefit of decoupling. In this paper, we propose a novel technique to allow very lightweight logging, resulting in much lower execution slowdown, while still permitting us to perform full-featured offline taint analysis. We develop StraightTaint, a hybrid taint analysis tool that completely decouples the program execution and taint analysis. StraightTaint relies on very lightweight logging of the execution information to reconstruct a straight-line code, enabling an offline symbolic taint analysis without frequent data communication with the application. While StraightTaint does not log complete runtime or input values, it is able to precisely identify the causal relationships between sources and sinks, for example. Compared with traditional dynamic taint analysis tools, StraightTaint has much lower application runtime overhead.

Guan, Le, Jia, Shijie, Chen, Bo, Zhang, Fengwei, Luo, Bo, Lin, Jingqiang, Liu, Peng, Xing, Xinyu, Xia, Luning.  2017.  Supporting Transparent Snapshot for Bare-metal Malware Analysis on Mobile Devices. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Computer Security Applications Conference. :339–349.

The increasing growth of cybercrimes targeting mobile devices urges an efficient malware analysis platform. With the emergence of evasive malware, which is capable of detecting that it is being analyzed in virtualized environments, bare-metal analysis has become the definitive resort. Existing works mainly focus on extracting the malicious behaviors exposed during bare-metal analysis. However, after malware analysis, it is equally important to quickly restore the system to a clean state to examine the next sample. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art solutions on mobile platforms can only restore the disk, and require a time-consuming system reboot. In addition, all of the existing works require some in-guest components to assist the restoration. Therefore, a kernel-level malware is still able to detect the presence of the in-guest components. We propose Bolt, a transparent restoration mechanism for bare-metal analysis on mobile platform without rebooting. Bolt achieves a reboot-less restoration by simultaneously making a snapshot for both the physical memory and the disk. Memory snapshot is enabled by an isolated operating system (BoltOS) in the ARM TrustZone secure world, and disk snapshot is accomplished by a piece of customized firmware (BoltFTL) for flash-based block devices. Because both the BoltOS and the BoltFTL are isolated from the guest system, even kernel-level malware cannot interfere with the restoration. More importantly, Bolt does not require any modifications into the guest system. As such, Bolt is the first that simultaneously achieves efficiency, isolation, and stealthiness to recover from infection due to malware execution. We have implemented a Bolt prototype working with the Android OS. Experimental results show that Bolt can restore the guest system to a clean state in only 2.80 seconds.

T
Sun, Xiaoyan, Dai, Jun, Liu, Peng, Singhal, Anoop, Yen, John.  2016.  Towards probabilistic identification of zero-day attack paths. 2016 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security (CNS). :64–72.
Zero-day attacks continue to challenge the enterprise network security defense. A zero-day attack path is formed when a multi-step attack contains one or more zero-day exploits. Detecting zero-day attack paths in time could enable early disclosure of zero-day threats. In this paper, we propose a probabilistic approach to identify zero-day attack paths and implement a prototype system named ZePro. An object instance graph is first built from system calls to capture the intrusion propagation. To further reveal the zero-day attack paths hiding in the instance graph, our system constructs an instance-graph-based Bayesian network. By leveraging intrusion evidence, the Bayesian network can quantitatively compute the probabilities of object instances being infected. The object instances with high infection probabilities reveal themselves and form the zero-day attack paths. The experiment results show that our system can effectively identify zero-day attack paths.