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Tian, Dave Jing, Hernandez, Grant, Choi, Joseph I., Frost, Vanessa, Johnson, Peter C., Butler, Kevin R. B..  2019.  LBM: A Security Framework for Peripherals within the Linux Kernel. 2019 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP). :967—984.

Modern computer peripherals are diverse in their capabilities and functionality, ranging from keyboards and printers to smartphones and external GPUs. In recent years, peripherals increasingly connect over a small number of standardized communication protocols, including USB, Bluetooth, and NFC. The host operating system is responsible for managing these devices; however, malicious peripherals can request additional functionality from the OS resulting in system compromise, or can craft data packets to exploit vulnerabilities within OS software stacks. Defenses against malicious peripherals to date only partially cover the peripheral attack surface and are limited to specific protocols (e.g., USB). In this paper, we propose Linux (e)BPF Modules (LBM), a general security framework that provides a unified API for enforcing protection against malicious peripherals within the Linux kernel. LBM leverages the eBPF packet filtering mechanism for performance and extensibility and we provide a high-level language to facilitate the development of powerful filtering functionality. We demonstrate how LBM can provide host protection against malicious USB, Bluetooth, and NFC devices; we also instantiate and unify existing defenses under the LBM framework. Our evaluation shows that the overhead introduced by LBM is within 1 μs per packet in most cases, application and system overhead is negligible, and LBM outperforms other state-of-the-art solutions. To our knowledge, LBM is the first security framework designed to provide comprehensive protection against malicious peripherals within the Linux kernel.

Hernandez, Grant, Fowze, Farhaan, Tian, Dave(Jing), Yavuz, Tuba, Butler, Kevin R.B..  2017.  FirmUSB: Vetting USB Device Firmware Using Domain Informed Symbolic Execution. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :2245–2262.

The USB protocol has become ubiquitous, supporting devices from high-powered computing devices to small embedded devices and control systems. USB's greatest feature, its openness and expandability, is also its weakness, and attacks such as BadUSB exploit the unconstrained functionality afforded to these devices as a vector for compromise. Fundamentally, it is virtually impossible to know whether a USB device is benign or malicious. This work introduces FirmUSB, a USB-specific firmware analysis framework that uses domain knowledge of the USB protocol to examine firmware images and determine the activity that they can produce. Embedded USB devices use microcontrollers that have not been well studied by the binary analysis community, and our work demonstrates how lifters into popular intermediate representations for analysis can be built, as well as the challenges of doing so. We develop targeting algorithms and use domain knowledge to speed up these processes by a factor of 7 compared to unconstrained fully symbolic execution. We also successfully find malicious activity in embedded 8051 firmwares without the use of source code. Finally, we provide insights into the challenges of symbolic analysis on embedded architectures and provide guidance on improving tools to better handle this important class of devices.

Etigowni, Sriharsha, Tian, Dave(Jing), Hernandez, Grant, Zonouz, Saman, Butler, Kevin.  2016.  CPAC: Securing Critical Infrastructure with Cyber-physical Access Control. Proceedings of the 32Nd Annual Conference on Computer Security Applications. :139–152.

Critical infrastructure such as the power grid has become increasingly complex. The addition of computing elements to traditional physical components increases complexity and hampers insight into how elements in the system interact with each other. The result is an infrastructure where operational mistakes, some of which cannot be distinguished from attacks, are more difficult to prevent and have greater potential impact, such as leaking sensitive information to the operator or attacker. In this paper, we present CPAC, a cyber-physical access control solution to manage complexity and mitigate threats in cyber-physical environments, with a focus on the electrical smart grid. CPAC uses information flow analysis based on mathematical models of the physical grid to generate policies enforced through verifiable logic. At the device side, CPAC combines symbolic execution with lightweight dynamic execution monitoring to allow non-intrusive taint analysis on programmable logic controllers in realtime. These components work together to provide a realtime view of all system elements, and allow for more robust and finer-grained protections than any previous solution to securing the grid. We implement a prototype of CPAC using Bachmann PLCs and evaluate several real-world incidents that demonstrate its scalability and effectiveness. The policy checking for a nation-wide grid is less than 150 ms, faster than existing solutions. We additionally show that CPAC can analyze potential component failures for arbitrary component failures, far beyond the capabilities of currently deployed systems. CPAC thus provides a solution to secure the modern smart grid from operator mistakes or insider attacks, maintain operational privacy, and support N - x contingencies.