A file system for safely interacting with untrusted USB flash drives


Ke Zhong, University of Pennsylvania; Zhihao Jiang and Ke Ma, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Sebastian Angel, University of Pennsylvania
Outstanding New Research Direction Award Finalist


This paper introduces RBFuse, a system for interacting with USB flash drives safely in commodity OSes while bypassing the complex and bug-prone USB stack on the host. RBFuse prevents attacks in which malicious USB flash drives exploit low-level USB driver vulnerabilities to compromise the host machine. The simple idea behind RBFuse is to remap the USB stack to a virtual machine and export the flash drive’s file system as a mountable virtual file system. The result of this decomposition is that the host can access all the files in the flash drive without speaking USB. This is beneficial from a security standpoint, since the VFS interface is small, has well-defined semantics, and can be formally verified. RBFuse requires no hardware modifications and introduces low overhead.

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@inproceedings {254274,
author = {Ke Zhong and Zhihao Jiang and Ke Ma and Sebastian Angel},
title = {A file system for safely interacting with untrusted {USB} flash drives},
booktitle = {12th USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Storage and File Systems (HotStorage 20)},
year = {2020},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/hotstorage20/presentation/zhong},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul

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