USENIX 2005 Annual Technical Conference, General Track Abstract
Pp. 375378 of the Proceedings
Automatic Synthesis of Filters to Discard Buffer Overflow Attacks: A Step Towards Realizing Self-Healing Systems
Zhenkai Liang, R. Sekar, and Daniel C. DuVarney, Stony Brook University
Buffer overflows have become the most common target for network-based
attacks. They are also the primary propagation mechanism used by worms.
Although many techniques (such as StackGuard) have been developed to
protect servers from being compromised by buffer overflow attacks, these
techniques cause the server to crash. In the face of automated, repetitive
attacks such as those due to worms, these protection mechanisms lead to
repeated restarts of the victim application, rendering its service
unavailable. In contrast, we present a promising new approach that learns
the characteristics of inputs associated with attacks, and filters them
out in the future. It can be implemented without changing the server code,
or even having access to its source. Since attack-bearing inputs are
dropped before they corrupt the victim process, there is no need to
restart the victim; as a result, recovery from attacks can be very fast.
We tested our approach on 8 buffer overflow attacks reported in the past
few years on securityfocus.com and were available with
working exploit code, and found that it generated accurate filters for 7
out of these 8 attacks.
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