FEAST Proceedings

FEAST ’18- Proceedings of the 2018 Workshop on Forming an Ecosystem Around Software Transformation

Full Citation in the ACM Digital Library

SESSION: Full Papers

TOSS: Tailoring Online Server Systems through Binary Feature Customization

  • Yurong Chen
  • Shaowen Sun
  • Tian Lan
  • Guru Venkataramani

Network-based models are increasingly adopted to deliver key software service and utilities (e.g., data storage, search, and processing) to end users. The need to satisfy diverse user requirements and to fit different application environment often leads to continual expansion and addition of new (and in many cases excessive) features, known as the feature creep problem. Existing work mitigating feature bloat often either debloats programs at source code level (which may not always be available, in particular for legacy systems) or customize binary only with respect to very limited scope of inputs. In this paper, we propose a new approach, TOSS, for automated customization of online servers and software systems, which are implemented using a client-server architecture based on the underlying network protocols. Specifically, TOSS harnesses program tracing and tainting-guided symbolic execution to identify desired (feature-related) code from the original program binary, and apply static binary rewriting to remove redundant features and directly create customized program binary with only desired features. We implement a prototype of TOSS and evaluate its feasibility using real-world executables including Mosquitto, which relies on the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol for lightweight Internet of Things (IoT) communications. The results show that TOSS is able to create a functional program binary with only desired features and significantly reduce potential attack surface by eliminating undesired protocol/program features.

BinRec: Attack Surface Reduction Through Dynamic Binary Recovery

  • Taddeus Kroes
  • Anil Altinay
  • Joseph Nash
  • Yeoul Na
  • Stijn Volckaert
  • Herbert Bos
  • Michael Franz
  • Cristiano Giuffrida

Compile-time specialization and feature pruning through static binary rewriting have been proposed repeatedly as techniques for reducing the attack surface of large programs, and for minimizing the trusted computing base. We propose a new approach to attack surface reduction: dynamic binary lifting and recompilation. We present BinRec, a binary recompilation framework that lifts binaries to a compiler-level intermediate representation (IR) to allow complex transformations on the captured code. After transformation, BinRec lowers the IR back to a “recovered” binary, which is semantically equivalent to the input binary, but does have its unnecessary features removed. Unlike existing approaches, which are mostly based on static analysis and rewriting, our framework analyzes and lifts binaries dynamically. The crucial advantage is that we can not only observe the full program including all of its dependencies, but we can also determine which program features the end-user actually uses. We evaluate the correctness and performance of BinRec, and show that our approach enables aggressive pruning of unwanted features in COTS binaries.

Making Break-ups Less Painful: Source-level Support for Transforming Legacy Software into a Network of Tasks

  • Nik Sultana
  • Achala Rao
  • Zihao Jin
  • Pardis Pashakhanloo
  • Henry Zhu
  • Ke Zhong
  • Boon Thau Loo

“Breaking up” software into a dataflow network of tasks can improve availability and performance by exploiting the flexibility of the resulting graph, more granular resource use, hardware concurrency and modern interconnects. Decomposing legacy systems in this manner is difficult and ad hoc however, raising such challenges as weaker consistency and potential data races. Thus it is difficult to build on battle-tested legacy systems. We propose a paradigm and supporting tools for developers to recognize task-level modularity opportunities in software. We use the Apache web server as an example of legacy software to test our ideas. This is a stepping stone towards realizing a vision where automated decision-support tools assist in the decomposition of systems to improve the reuse of components, meet performance targets or exploit new hardware devices and topologies.

Towards Interface-Driven COTS Binary Hardening

  • Xiaoyang Xu
  • Wenhao Wang
  • Kevin W. Hamlen
  • Zhiqiang Lin

Hardening COTS binary software products (e.g., via control-flow integrity and/or software fault isolation defenses) is particularly difficult in contexts where the surrounding software environment includes closed-source, unmodifiable, and possibly obfuscated binary components, such as system libraries, OS kernels, and virtualization layers. It is demonstrated that many code hardening algorithms, when applied only to the user-level software products in such environments, leave open critical vulnerabilities that arise from mismatches between the application-agnostic security policies enforced by the system modules versus the application-specific policies enforced at the application layer. To overcome this problem, a modular approach is proposed for hardening application-level software in such environments without the need to harden all other software in the environment with exactly the same protection strategy or policies. The approach embeds application-level protections within objects shared by interoperating modules. Modules that obey their interface specifications therefore receive an appropriate granularity of protection automatically when they invoke shared object methods. Experiences developing and refining this approach for Microsoft Windows environments are reported and discussed.

Clone-Slicer: Detecting Domain Specific Binary Code Clones through Program Slicing

  • Hongfa Xue
  • Guru Venkataramani
  • Tian Lan

In this paper, we presented a novel framework, Clone-Slicer, a domain-specific code clone detector for binary executables, that integrates program slicing and a deep learning based binary code clone modeling framework to improve the number of code clone detected. In particular, we chose pointer analysis for memory safety as our example domain to demonstrate the usefulness of our approach. We evaluated our approach using real-world applications from SPEC 2006 benchmark suite. Our results show Clone-Slicer is able to detect up to 43.64% code clones compared to prior work and further cut the time-to-solution (the time spent to verify memory bound safety) for Clone-Slicer by 32.96% compared to Clone-Hunter. As future work, we plan to apply Clone-Slicer to different domains and tasks, such as vulnerable program path discovery, and further improve the capability for code clone detection through advanced clustering algorithms. We will also study the cost-benefit tradeoffs of using such advanced algorithms.