SlimGuard: Design and Implementation of a Memory Efficient and Secure Heap Allocator

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Virginia Tech

Attacks on the heap are an increasingly severe threat. State-of-the-art secure dynamic memory allocators can offer protection, however their memory consumption is high, making them suboptimal in many situations. We introduce sys, a secure allocator whose design is driven by memory efficiency. Among other features, sys uses an efficient fine-grain size classes indexing mechanism and implements a novel dynamic canary scheme. It offers a low memory overhead due its size classes optimized for canary usage, its on-demand metadata allocation, and the combination of randomized allocations and over-provisioning into a single memory efficient security feature. sys protects against widespread heap-related attacks such as overflows, over-reads, double/invalid free, and use-after-free. Evaluation over a wide range of applications shows that it offers a significant reduction in memory consumption compared to the state-of-the-art secure allocator (up to 2x in macro-benchmarks), while offering similar or better security guarantees and good performance.

Dynamic Memory Allocation, Memory Safety