Best Student Paper
An important threat to reliable storage of data is silent data corruption. In order to develop suitable protection mechanisms against data corruption, it is essential to understand its characteristics. In this paper, we present the first large-scale study of data corruption. We analyze corruption instances recorded in production storage systems containing a total of million disk drives, over a period of months. We study three classes of corruption: checksum mismatches, identity discrepancies, and parity inconsistencies. We focus on checksum mismatches since they occur the most.
We find more than 400,000 instances of checksum mismatches over the 41-month period. We find many interesting trends among these instances including: (i) nearline disks (and their adapters) develop checksum mismatches an order of magnitude more often than enterprise class disk drives, (ii) checksum mismatches within the same disk are not independent events and they show high spatial and temporal locality, and (iii) checksum mismatches across different disks in the same storage system are not independent. We use our observations to derive lessons for corruption-proof system design.
Modern smartcards, capable of sophisticated cryptography, provide a high assurance of tamper resistance and are thus commonly used in payment applications. Although extracting secrets out of smartcards requires resources beyond the means of many would-be thieves, the manner in which they are used can be exploited for fraud. Cardholders authorize financial transactions by presenting the card and disclosing a PIN to a terminal without any assurance as to the amount being charged or who is to be paid, and have no means of discerning whether the terminal is authentic or not. Even the most advanced smartcards cannot protect customers from being defrauded by the simple relaying of data from one location to another. We describe the development of such an attack, and show results from live experiments on the UK's EMV implementation, Chip & PIN. We discuss previously proposed defences, and show that these cannot provide the required security assurances. A new defence based on a distance bounding protocol is described and implemented, which requires only modest alterations to current hardware and software. As far as we are aware, this is the first complete design and implementation of a secure distance bounding protocol. Future smartcard generations could use this design to provide cost-effective resistance to relay attacks, which are a genuine threat to deployed applications. We also discuss the security-economics impact to customers of enhanced authentication mechanisms.
A fundamental problem with many peer-to-peer systems is the tendency for users to “free ride” to consume resources without contributing to the system. The popular file distribution tool BitTorrent was explicitly designed to address this problem, using a tit-for-tat reciprocity strategy to provide positive incentives for nodes to contribute resources to the swarm. While BitTorrent has been extremely successful, we show that its incentive mechanism is not robust to strategic clients. Through performance modeling parameterized by real world traces, we demonstrate that all peers contribute resources that do not directly improve their performance. We use these results to drive the design and implementation of BitTyrant, a strategic BitTorrent client that provides a median 70% performance gain for a 1 Mbit client on live Internet swarms. We further show that when applied universally, strategic clients can hurt average per-swarm performance compared to today’s BitTorrent client implementations.
This paper introduces JitterBugs, a class of inline interception mechanisms that covertly transmit data by perturbing the timing of input events likely to affect externally observable network traffic. JitterBugs positioned at input devices deep within the trusted environment (e.g., hidden in cables or connectors) can leak sensitive data without compromising the host or its software. In particular, we show a practical Keyboard JitterBug that solves the data exfiltration problem for keystroke loggers by leaking captured passwords through small variations in the precise times at which keyboard events are delivered to the host. Whenever an interactive communication application (such as SSH, Telnet, instant messaging, etc) is running, a receiver monitoring the host's network traffic can recover the leaked data, even when the session or link is encrypted. Our experiments suggest that simple Keyboard JitterBugs can be a practical technique for capturing and exfiltrating typed secrets under conventional OSes and interactive network applications, even when the receiver is many hops away on the Internet.
Patching, upgrading, and maintaining operating system software is a growing management complexity problem that can result in unacceptable system downtime. We introduce AutoPod, a system that enables unscheduled operating system updates while preserving application service availability. AutoPod provides a group of processes and associated users with an isolated machine-independent virtualized environment that is decoupled from the underlying operating system instance. This virtualized environment is integrated with a novel checkpoint-restart mechanism which allows processes to be suspended, resumed, and migrated across operating system kernel versions with different security and maintenance patches.
AutoPod incorporates a system status service to determine when operating system patches need to be applied to the current host, then automatically migrates application services to another host to preserve their availability while the current host is updated and rebooted. We have implemented AutoPod on Linux without requiring any application or operating system kernel changes. Our measurements on real world desktop and server applications demonstrate that AutoPod imposes little overhead and provides sub-second suspend and resume times that can be an order of magnitude faster than starting applications after a system reboot. AutoPod enables systems to autonomically stay updated with relevant maintenance and security patches, while ensuring no loss of data and minimizing service disruption.
The attack surface concept provides a means of discussing the susceptibility of software to as-yet-unknown attacks. A system's attack surface encompasses the methods the system makes available to an attacker, and the system resources which can be used to further an attack. A measurement of the size of the attack surface could be used to compare the security of multiple systems which perform the same function.
The Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) has been in existence for over a decade. Relative to HTTP or SMTP, IMAP is a niche protocol, but IMAP servers are widely deployed nonetheless. There are three popular open source UNIX IMAP servers—UW-IMAP, Cyrus, and Courier-IMAP—and there has not been a formal security comparison between them.
In this paper, I use attack surfaces to compare the relative security risks posed by these three products. I undertake this evaluation in service of two complementary goals: to provide an honest examination of the security postures and risks of the three servers, and to advance the study of attack surfaces by performing an automated attack surface measurement using a methodology based on counting entry and exit points in the code.