A System to Verify Network Behavior of Known Cryptographic Clients


Andrew Chi, Robert A. Cochran, Marie Nesfield, Michael K. Reiter, and Cynthia Sturton, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Numerous exploits of client-server protocols and applications involve modifying clients to behave in ways that untampered clients would not, such as crafting malicious packets. In this paper, we develop a system for verifying in near real-time that a cryptographic client’s message sequence is consistent with its known implementation. Moreover, we accomplish this without knowing all of the client-side inputs driving its behavior. Our toolchain for verifying a client’s messages explores multiple candidate execution paths in the client concurrently, an innovation useful for aspects of certain cryptographic protocols such as message padding (which will be permitted in TLS 1.3). In addition, our toolchain includes a novel approach to symbolically executing the client software in multiple passes that defers expensive functions until their inputs can be inferred and concretized. We demonstrate client verification on OpenSSL and BoringSSL to show that, e.g., Heartbleed exploits can be detected without Heartbleed-specific filtering and within seconds of the first malicious packet. On legitimate traffic our verification keeps pace with Gmail-shaped workloads, with a median lag of 0.85s.

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@inproceedings {201550,
author = {Andrew Chi and Robert A. Cochran and Marie Nesfield and Michael K. Reiter and Cynthia Sturton},
title = {A System to Verify Network Behavior of Known Cryptographic Clients},
booktitle = {14th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 17)},
year = {2017},
isbn = {978-1-931971-37-9},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {177--195},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi17/technical-sessions/presentation/chi},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = mar

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