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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.

Lin, Zhenpeng, Chen, Yueqi, Wu, Yuhang, Mu, Dongliang, Yu, Chensheng, Xing, Xinyu, Li, Kang.  2022.  GREBE: Unveiling Exploitation Potential for Linux Kernel Bugs. 2022 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP). :2078–2095.
Nowadays, dynamic testing tools have significantly expedited the discovery of bugs in the Linux kernel. When unveiling kernel bugs, they automatically generate reports, specifying the errors the Linux encounters. The error in the report implies the possible exploitability of the corresponding kernel bug. As a result, many security analysts use the manifested error to infer a bug’s exploitability and thus prioritize their exploit development effort. However, using the error in the report, security researchers might underestimate a bug’s exploitability. The error exhibited in the report may depend upon how the bug is triggered. Through different paths or under different contexts, a bug may manifest various error behaviors implying very different exploitation potentials. This work proposes a new kernel fuzzing technique to explore all the possible error behaviors that a kernel bug might bring about. Unlike conventional kernel fuzzing techniques concentrating on kernel code coverage, our fuzzing technique is more directed towards the buggy code fragment. It introduces an object-driven kernel fuzzing technique to explore various contexts and paths to trigger the reported bug, making the bug manifest various error behaviors. With the newly demonstrated errors, security researchers could better infer a bug’s possible exploitability. To evaluate our proposed technique’s effectiveness, efficiency, and impact, we implement our fuzzing technique as a tool GREBE and apply it to 60 real-world Linux kernel bugs. On average, GREBE could manifest 2+ additional error behaviors for each of the kernel bugs. For 26 kernel bugs, GREBE discovers higher exploitation potential. We report to kernel vendors some of the bugs – the exploitability of which was wrongly assessed and the corresponding patch has not yet been carefully applied – resulting in their rapid patch adoption.
ISSN: 2375-1207
Guo, Wenbo, Mu, Dongliang, Xu, Jun, Su, Purui, Wang, Gang, Xing, Xinyu.  2018.  LEMNA: Explaining Deep Learning Based Security Applications. Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :364–379.
While deep learning has shown a great potential in various domains, the lack of transparency has limited its application in security or safety-critical areas. Existing research has attempted to develop explanation techniques to provide interpretable explanations for each classification decision. Unfortunately, current methods are optimized for non-security tasks ( e.g., image analysis). Their key assumptions are often violated in security applications, leading to a poor explanation fidelity. In this paper, we propose LEMNA, a high-fidelity explanation method dedicated for security applications. Given an input data sample, LEMNA generates a small set of interpretable features to explain how the input sample is classified. The core idea is to approximate a local area of the complex deep learning decision boundary using a simple interpretable model. The local interpretable model is specially designed to (1) handle feature dependency to better work with security applications ( e.g., binary code analysis); and (2) handle nonlinear local boundaries to boost explanation fidelity. We evaluate our system using two popular deep learning applications in security (a malware classifier, and a function start detector for binary reverse-engineering). Extensive evaluations show that LEMNA's explanation has a much higher fidelity level compared to existing methods. In addition, we demonstrate practical use cases of LEMNA to help machine learning developers to validate model behavior, troubleshoot classification errors, and automatically patch the errors of the target models.