15th USENIX Security Symposium Abstract
Pp. 105120 of the Proceedings
N-Variant Systems: A Secretless Framework for Security through
Benjamin Cox, David Evans, Adrian Filipi, Jonathan Rowanhill,
Wei Hu, Jack Davidson, John Knight, Anh Nguyen-Tuong, and Jason Hiser, University of Virginia
We present an architectural framework for systematically using automated diversity to provide high assurance detection and disruption for large classes of attacks. The framework executes a set of automatically diversified variants on the same inputs, and monitors their behavior to detect divergences. The benefit of this approach is that it requires an attacker to simultaneously compromise all system variants with the same input. By constructing variants with disjoint exploitation sets, we can make it impossible to carry out large classes of important attacks. In contrast to previous approaches that use automated diversity for security, our approach does not rely on keeping any secrets. In this paper, we introduce the N-variant systems framework, present a model for analyzing security properties of N-variant systems, define variations that can be used to detect attacks that involve referencing absolute memory addresses and executing injected code, and describe and present performance results from a prototype implementation.
- View the full text of this paper in HTML and PDF. Listen to the presentation in MP3 format.
Until August 2007, you will need your USENIX membership identification in order to access the full papers. The Proceedings are published as a collective work, © 2006 by the USENIX Association. All Rights Reserved. Rights to individual papers remain with the author or the author's employer. Permission is granted for the noncommercial reproduction of the complete work for educational or research purposes. USENIX acknowledges all trademarks within this paper.