Directed Compositional Symbolic Execution for MSP430

Thursday August 31th, 12-1PM @ BA5205

Speaker: Ivan Pustogarov

Title:
Directed Compositional Symbolic Execution for MSP430

Abstract:
As embedded systems become ubiquitous and gradually shift from isolated offline to interconnected online systems, their security becomes a major concern. Embedded systems software is usually written in low-level memory-unsafe programming languages such as C which makes them particularly susceptible to memory corruption vulnerabilities.  In addition, such systems are often equipped with sensors and the firmware controlling them is commonly designed assuming a benign environment which makes them susceptible for signal spoofing attacks.
Symbolic execution is an efficient approach that can help in identifying and understanding these threats: combination of symbolic execution and black-box fuzzing can achieve high code coverage; its ability to automatically generate inputs that drive the program into particular states can be used to better understand possible signal spoofing attacks. Existing symbolic execution tools, however, do not work for firmware code and in contrast to the large body of research for traditional architectures such as x86, there are few tools for lower-end embedded architectures. 
 
In the first part of this talk, I will discuss our experience in building a directed, compositional  symbolic execution framework that targets software for the popular MSP430 family of microcontrollers.  I will give a few more details about our modular approach and  how we tackled interrupt-driven control flow, extensive use of peripheral devices, and hardware-related memory areas that are common for embedded programming and which frustrate traditional symbolic execution tools. I will then describe how we used our tool to partially automate a signal spoofing attack against a recently proposed gesture recognition system to trick the firmware into “recognizing” a gesture of the adversary’s choosing.  In the second part of the talk, I will briefly describe our preliminary work on handling dynamic memory allocation routines
(c/re/malloc) with symbolic sizes that are known to significantly increase the number of execution states if symbolically executed “as-is”.

Bio:
Ivan Pustogarov is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Cornell University where he works on program analysis for security of embedded systems. He received his PhD from the University of Luxembourg with the focus on network security in 2015.
 
His research interests lie in the area of system security and center on program/binary analysis for embedded systems. His recent project focused on developing program analysis tools and techniques for the popular MSP430 family of microcontrollers. His research on network security includes practical low-resource off-path attacks on the Tor and Bitcoin P2P networks. The flaws described in his publications had a direct impact on users’ security and caused redesign of parts of the Tor protocol and its core code. His research has been published in S&P, CCS, AsiaCCS, ESORICS etc., and received attention from the media including BBC, The Register, Dailydot, and others.

How to Learn Klingon Without a Dictionary: Detection and Measurement of Black Keywords Used by the Underground Economy

Thursday Aug 3rd, 12-1PM @ BA5205

Speaker: Prof Haixin Duan from Tsinghua

Title:
How to Learn Klingon Without a Dictionary: Detection and Measurement of Black Keywords Used by the Underground Economy

Abstract:
Online underground economy is an important channel that connects the merchants of illegal products and their buyers, which is also constantly monitored by legal authorities. As one common way for evasion, the merchants and buyers together create a vocabulary of jargons (called “black keywords” in this paper) to disguise the transaction (e.g., “smack” is one street name for “heroin” [1]).  Understanding black keywords is of great importance to track and disrupt the underground economy, but it is also prohibitively difficult: the investigators have to infiltrate the inner circle of criminals to learn their meanings, a task both risky and time- consuming. In this talk Prof. Duan  will introduce their attempt towards capturing and understanding the ever-changing black keywords. We investigated the underground business promoted through blackhat SEO (search engine optimization) and demonstrate that the black keywords targeted by the SEOers can be discovered through a fully automated approach. Together with Baidu, the leading search engine in China,  Prof. Duan’s team built a system called KDES (Keywords Detection and Expansion System), and applied it to the search results of Baidu. So far, they have already identified 478,879 black keywords which were clustered under 1,522 core words based on text similarity. They further extracted the information like emails, mobile phone numbers and instant messenger IDs from the pages and domains relevant to the underground business. Such information is helpful to understand the underground economy of China in particular.

Bio:
Dr. Haixin Duan is a professor in the Institute for Network Science and Cyberspace at Tsinghua University. He was once a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and a senior scientist in International Computer Science Institute(ICSI).  Professor Duan focuses his research on network security, including security of network protocols, intrusion detection and underground economy detection. His research results were published in top security conferences like Security & Privacy, USENIX Security, CCS and NDSS. One of his research won Distinguished Paper Award of NDSS 2016. Prof. Duan won the  Excellence Talent Award for Cybersecurity (one of ten awardees from both academia and industry in China).

Challenges and Solutions to Secure Internet Geolocation

Wednesday May 3rd , 12-1PM @ BA5205

Speaker: AbdlRahman Abdou

Title:
Challenges and Solutions to Secure Internet Geolocation

Abstract:
The number of security-sensitive location-aware services over the Internet continues to grow, such as location-aware authentication, location-aware access policies, fraud prevention, complying with media licensing, and regulating online gambling/voting. 
An adversary can evade existing geolocation techniques, e.g., by faking GPS coordinates or employing a non-local IP address through proxy and virtual private networks. In this talk, I will present parts of my PhD work, including Client Presence Verification (CPV), which is a measurement-based technique designed to verify an assertion about a device’s presence inside a prescribed geographic region. CPV does not identify devices by their IP addresses. Rather, the device’s location is corroborated in a novel way by leveraging geometric properties of triangles, which prevents an adversary from manipulating network delays to its favor. To achieve high accuracy, CPV mitigates Internet path asymmetry using a novel method to deduce one-way application-layer delays to/from the client’s participating device, and mines these delays for evidence supporting/refuting the asserted location. I will present CPV’s evaluation results, including the granularity of the verified location and the verification time, and summarize some lessons we learned throughout the process.

Bio:
AbdelRahman Abdou is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Computer Science at Carleton University. He received his PhD (2015) in Systems and Computer Engineering from Carleton University. His research interests include location-aware security, SDN security, authentication, SSL/TLS and using Internet measurements to solve problems related to Internet security.

Consistency Oracle

Friday April 28th, 1-2PM @ BA5205

Speaker: Beom Heyn Kim

Title:
Consistency Oracle

Abstract:
Many modern distributed storage systems emphasize availability and partition tolerance over consistency, leading to many systems that provide weak data consistency. However, weak data consistency is difficult for both system designers and users to reason about formal specifications that may offer precise descriptions of consistency behavior, but they are difficult to use and usually require expertise beyond that of the average software developer. In this paper, we propose and describe consistency oracle, a novel instantiation of formal specification. A consistency oracle takes the same interface call as a distributed storage system, but returns all possible values that may be returned under a given consistency model. Consistency oracles are easy to use and can be applied to test and verify both distributed storage systems and client software that uses those systems.

Bio:
Ben is a PhD student under Prof. David Lie. His research primarily focuses on Consistency Verification for Distributed Systems.