Program Anomaly Detection Against Data-Oriented Attacks
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Memory-corruption vulnerability is one of the most common attack vectors used to compromise computer systems. Such vulnerabilities could lead to serious security problems and would remain an unsolved problem for a long time. Existing memory corruption attacks can be broadly classified into two categories: i) control-flow attacks and ii) data-oriented attacks. Though data-oriented attacks are known for a long time, the threats have not been adequately addressed due to the fact that most previous defense mechanisms focus on preventing control-flow exploits. As launching a control-flow attack becomes increasingly difficult due to many deployed defenses against control-flow hijacking, data-oriented attacks are considered an appealing attack technique for system compromise, including the emerging embedded control systems. To counter data-oriented attacks, mitigation techniques such as memory safety enforcement and data randomization can be applied in different stages over the course of an attack. However, attacks are still possible because currently deployed defenses can be bypassed. This dissertation explores the possibility of defeating data-oriented attacks through external monitoring using program anomaly detection techniques. I start with a systematization of current knowledge about exploitation techniques of data-oriented attacks and the applicable defense mechanisms. Then, I address three research problems in program anomaly detection against data-oriented attacks. First, I address the problem of securing control programs in Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) against data-oriented attacks. I describe a new security methodology that leverages the event-driven nature in characterizing CPS control program behaviors. By enforcing runtime cyber-physical execution semantics, our method detects data-oriented exploits when physical events are inconsistent with the runtime program behaviors. Second, I present a statistical program behavior modeling framework for frequency anomaly detection, where frequency anomaly is the direct consequence of many non-control-data attacks. Specifically, I describe two statistical program behavior models, sFSA and sCFT, at different granularities. Our method combines the local and long-range models to improve the robustness against data-oriented attacks and significantly increase the difficulties that an attack bypasses the anomaly detection system. Third, I focus on defending against data-oriented programming (DOP) attacks using Intel Processor Trace (PT). DOP is a recently proposed advanced technique to construct expressive non-control data exploits. I first demystify the DOP exploitation technique and show its complexity and rich expressiveness. Then, I design and implement the DeDOP anomaly detection system, and demonstrate its detection capability against the real-world ProFTPd DOP attack.
- Doctoral Dissertations