Faculty Colloq & CSE 600: Trent Jaeger from Penn State

Friday, April 22, 2016 - 14:30 to 16:00
Room 120 New Computer Science

Title: Fine-Grained Control-Flow Integrity for Kernel Software

Modern systems assume that privileged software always behaves as expected,
however, such assumptions may not hold given the prevalence of kernel
vulnerabilities. One idea is to employ defenses to restrict how adversaries
may exploit such vulnerabilities, such as Control-Flow Integrity (CFI), which
restricts execution to a Control-Flow Graph (CFG). However, proposed
applications of CFI enforcement to kernel software are too coarse-grained to
restrict the adversary effectively and either fail to enforce
CFI comprehensively or are very expensive.

We present a mostly-automated approach for retrofitting kernel software that
leverages features of such software to enable comprehensive, efficient,
fine-grained CFI enforcement. We achieve this goal by leveraging two insights.
We first leverage the conservative function pointer usage patterns found in the
kernel source code to develop a method to compute fine-grained CFGs for kernel
software. Second, we identify two opportunities for removing CFI instrumentation
relative to prior optimization techniques: reusing existing kernel
instru- mentation and creating direct transfers, where possible. Using these
insights, we show how to choose optimized defenses for kernels to handle system
events, enabling comprehensive and efficient CFI enforcement.

We evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed fine-grained CFI instrumentation
by applying the retrofitting approach comprehensively to FreeBSD, the MINIX
microkernel system, and MINIX’s user-space servers, and applying this
approach partly to the BitVisor hypervisor. We show that our approach eliminates
over 70% of the indirect targets relative to the best current, fine-grained CFI
techniques, while our optimizations reduce the instrumentation necessary to
enforce coarse-grained CFI. The performance improvement due to our
optimizations ranges from 51%/25% for MINIX to 12%/17% for FreeBSD for the
average/maximum microbenchmark overhead. The evaluation shows that fine-grained
CFI instrumentation can be computed for kernel software in practice and can be
enforced more efficiently than coarse-grained CFI instrumentation.


Trent Jaeger is a Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department
at The Pennsylvania State University and the Co-Director of the Systems and
Internet Infrastructure Security (SIIS) Lab. He is a well-known expert in
computer systems security having published over 100 peer-reviewed papers on
these topics and is the author of the book “Operating Systems Security,” which
examines the principles of secure operating systems. Dr. Jaeger’s research has
resulted in several contributions to the security of the Linux kernel, including
the Linux Security Modules framework, Linux Integrity Modules framework, and
the integration of IPsec with SELinux. His current research focuses on the
development of system mechanisms and program analysis techniques to harden
deployments in mobile, server, and cloud environments. Dr. Jaeger is currently
the Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Security, Audit, and Control (ACM
SIGSAC), which is the security research community with nearly 1000 members. He
has been the program chair of several conferences and workshops, including ACM
ASIACCS in 2014. He previously worked at IBM Research from 1996 to 2005, when
he joined Penn State.

Computed Event Type: 
Event Title: 
Faculty Colloq & CSE 600: Trent Jaeger from Penn State