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More than a fair share: Network Data Remanence attacks against secret sharing-based schemes

Published in:
Network and Distributed Systems Security Symp., NDSS, 23-26 February 2021.

Summary

With progress toward a practical quantum computer has come an increasingly rapid search for quantum-safe, secure communication schemes that do not rely on discrete logarithm or factorization problems. One such encryption scheme, Multi-path Switching with Secret Sharing (MSSS), combines secret sharing with multi-path switching to achieve security as long as the adversary does not have global observability of all paths and thus cannot capture enough shares to reconstruct messages. MSSS assumes that sending a share on a path is an atomic operation and all paths have the same delay. In this paper, we identify a side-channel vulnerability for MSSS, created by the fact that in real networks, sending a share is not an atomic operation as paths have multiple hops and different delays. This channel, referred to as Network Data Remanence (NDR), is present in all schemes like MSSS whose security relies on transfer atomicity and all paths having same delay. We demonstrate the presence of NDR in a physical testbed. We then identify two new attacks that aim to exploit the side channel, referred to as NDR Blind and NDR Planned, propose an analytical model to analyze the attacks, and demonstrate them using an implementation of MSSS based on the ONOS SDN controller. Finally, we present a countermeasure for the attacks and show its effectiveness in simulations and Mininet experiments.
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Summary

With progress toward a practical quantum computer has come an increasingly rapid search for quantum-safe, secure communication schemes that do not rely on discrete logarithm or factorization problems. One such encryption scheme, Multi-path Switching with Secret Sharing (MSSS), combines secret sharing with multi-path switching to achieve security as long as...

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Hardware foundation for secure computing

Published in:
2020 IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conf., HPEC, 22-24 September 2020.

Summary

Software security solutions are often considered to be more adaptable than their hardware counterparts. However, software has to work within the limitations of the system hardware platform, of which the selection is often dictated by functionality rather than security. Performance issues of security solutions without proper hardware support are easy to understand. The real challenge, however, is in the dilemma of "what should be done?" vs. "what could be done?" Security software could become ineffective if its "liberal" assumptions, e.g., the availability of a substantial trusted computing base (TCB) on the hardware platform, are violated. To address this dilemma, we have been developing and prototyping a security-by-design hardware foundation platform that enhances mainstream microprocessors with proper hardware security primitives to support and enhance software security solutions. This paper describes our progress in the use of a customized security co-processor to provide security services.
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Summary

Software security solutions are often considered to be more adaptable than their hardware counterparts. However, software has to work within the limitations of the system hardware platform, of which the selection is often dictated by functionality rather than security. Performance issues of security solutions without proper hardware support are easy...

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Control systems need software security too: cyber-physical systems and safety-critical application domains must adopt widespread effective software defenses

Author:
Published in:
SIGNAL Mag., 1 June 2020.

Summary

Low-level embedded control systems are increasingly being targeted by adversaries, and there is a strong need for stronger software defenses for such systems. The cyber-physical nature of such systems impose real-time performance constraints not seen in enterprise computing systems, and such constraints fundamentally alter how software defenses should be designed and applied. MIT Lincoln Laboratory scientists demonstrated that current randomization-based defenses, which have low average-case overhead, can incur significant worst-case overhead that may be untenable in real-time applications, while some low-overhead enforcement-based defenses have low worst-case performance overheads making them more amenable to real-time applications. Such defenses should be incorporated into a comprehensive resilient architecture with a strategy for failover and timely recovery in the case of a cyber threat.
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Summary

Low-level embedded control systems are increasingly being targeted by adversaries, and there is a strong need for stronger software defenses for such systems. The cyber-physical nature of such systems impose real-time performance constraints not seen in enterprise computing systems, and such constraints fundamentally alter how software defenses should be designed...

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Automated discovery of cross-plane event-based vulnerabilities in software-defined networking

Summary

Software-defined networking (SDN) achieves a programmable control plane through the use of logically centralized, event-driven controllers and through network applications (apps) that extend the controllers' functionality. As control plane decisions are often based on the data plane, it is possible for carefully crafted malicious data plane inputs to direct the control plane towards unwanted states that bypass network security restrictions (i.e., cross-plane attacks). Unfortunately, because of the complex interplay among controllers, apps, and data plane inputs, at present it is difficult to systematically identify and analyze these cross-plane vulnerabilities. We present EVENTSCOPE, a vulnerability detection tool that automatically analyzes SDN control plane event usage, discovers candidate vulnerabilities based on missing event-handling routines, and validates vulnerabilities based on data plane effects. To accurately detect missing event handlers without ground truth or developer aid, we cluster apps according to similar event usage and mark inconsistencies as candidates. We create an event flow graph to observe a global view of events and control flows within the control plane and use it to validate vulnerabilities that affect the data plane. We applied EVENTSCOPE to the ONOS SDN controller and uncovered 14 new vulnerabilities.
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Summary

Software-defined networking (SDN) achieves a programmable control plane through the use of logically centralized, event-driven controllers and through network applications (apps) that extend the controllers' functionality. As control plane decisions are often based on the data plane, it is possible for carefully crafted malicious data plane inputs to direct the...

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FirmFuzz: automated IOT firmware introspection and analysis

Published in:
2nd Workshop on the Internet of Things Security and Privacy, IoT S&P '19, 15 November 2019.

Summary

While the number of IoT devices grows at an exhilarating pace their security remains stagnant. Imposing secure coding standards across all vendors is infeasible. Testing individual devices allows an analyst to evaluate their security post deployment. Any discovered vulnerabilities can then be disclosed to the vendors in order to assist them in securing their products. The search for vulnerabilities should ideally be automated for efficiency and furthermore be device-independent for scalability. We present FirmFuzz, an automated device-independent emulation and dynamic analysis framework for Linux-based firmware images. It employs a greybox-based generational fuzzing approach coupled with static analysis and system introspection to provide targeted and deterministic bug discovery within a firmware image. We evaluate FirmFuzz by emulating and dynamically analyzing 32 images (from 27 unique devices) with a network accessible from the host performing the emulation. During testing, FirmFuzz discovered seven previously undisclosed vulnerabilities across six different devices: two IP cameras and four routers. So far, 4 CVE's have been assigned.
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Summary

While the number of IoT devices grows at an exhilarating pace their security remains stagnant. Imposing secure coding standards across all vendors is infeasible. Testing individual devices allows an analyst to evaluate their security post deployment. Any discovered vulnerabilities can then be disclosed to the vendors in order to assist...

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Security Design of Mission-Critical Embedded Systems

Published in:
HPEC 2019: IEEE Conf. on High Performance Extreme Computing, 22-24 September 2019.

Summary

This tutorial explains a systematic approach of co-designing functionality and security into mission-criticalembedded systems. The tutorial starts by reviewing common issues in embedded applications to define mission objectives,threat models, and security/resilience goals. We then introduce an overview of security technologies toachieve goals of confidentiality, integrity, and availability given design criteria and a realistic threatmodel. The technologies range from practical cryptography and key management, protection of data atrest, data in transit, and data in use, and tamper resistance.A major portion of the tutorial is dedicated to exploring the mission critical embedded system solutionspace. We discuss the search for security vulnerabilities (red teaming) and the search for solutions (blueteaming). Besides the lecture, attendees, under instructor guidance, will perform realistic andmeaningful hands-on exercises of defining mission and security objectives, assessing principal issues,applying technologies, and understanding their interactions. The instructor will provide an exampleapplication (distributed sensing, communicating, and computing) to be used in these exercises.Attendees could also bring their own applications for the exercises.Attendees are encouraged to work collaboratively throughout the development process, thus creatingopportunities to learn from each other. During the exercise, attendees will consider the use of varioussecurity/resilience features, articulate and justify the use of resources, and assess the system’ssuitability for mission assurance. Attendees can expect to gain valuable insight and experience in thesubject after completing the lecture and exercises.The instructor, who is an expert and practitioner in the field, will offer insight, advice, and concreteexamples and discussions. The tutorial draws from the instructor’s decades of experience in secure,resilient systems and technology.
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Summary

This tutorial explains a systematic approach of co-designing functionality and security into mission-criticalembedded systems. The tutorial starts by reviewing common issues in embedded applications to define mission objectives,threat models, and security/resilience goals. We then introduce an overview of security technologies toachieve goals of confidentiality, integrity, and availability given design criteria...

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The leakage-resilience dilemma

Published in:
Proc. European Symp. on Research in Computer Security, ESORICS 2019, pp. 87-106.

Summary

Many control-flow-hijacking attacks rely on information leakage to disclose the location of gadgets. To address this, several leakage-resilient defenses, have been proposed that fundamentally limit the power of information leakage. Examples of such defenses include address-space re-randomization, destructive code reads, and execute-only code memory. Underlying all of these defenses is some form of code randomization. In this paper, we illustrate that randomization at the granularity of a page or coarser is not secure, and can be exploited by generalizing the idea of partial pointer overwrites, which we call the Relative ROP (RelROP) attack. We then analyzed more that 1,300 common binaries and found that 94% of them contained sufficient gadgets for an attacker to spawn a shell. To demonstrate this concretely, we built a proof-of-concept exploit against PHP 7.0.0. Furthermore, randomization at a granularity finer than a memory page faces practicality challenges when applied to shared libraries. Our findings highlight the dilemma that faces randomization techniques: course-grained techniques are efficient but insecure and fine-grained techniques are secure but impractical.
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Summary

Many control-flow-hijacking attacks rely on information leakage to disclose the location of gadgets. To address this, several leakage-resilient defenses, have been proposed that fundamentally limit the power of information leakage. Examples of such defenses include address-space re-randomization, destructive code reads, and execute-only code memory. Underlying all of these defenses is...

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Guest editorial: special issue on hardware solutions for cyber security

Published in:
J. Hardw. Syst. Secur., Vol. 3, No. 199, 2019.

Summary

A cyber system could be viewed as an architecture consisting of application software, system software, and system hardware. The hardware layer, being at the foundation of the overall architecture, must be secure itself and also provide effective security features to the software layers. In order to seamlessly integrate security hardware into a system with minimal performance compromises, designers must develop and understand tangible security specifications and metrics to trade between security, performance, and cost for an optimal solution. Hardware security components, libraries, and reference architecture are increasingly important in system design and security. This special issue includes four exciting manuscripts on several aspects of developing hardware-oriented security for systems.
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Summary

A cyber system could be viewed as an architecture consisting of application software, system software, and system hardware. The hardware layer, being at the foundation of the overall architecture, must be secure itself and also provide effective security features to the software layers. In order to seamlessly integrate security hardware...

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A compact end cryptographic unit for tactical unmanned systems

Summary

Under the Navy's Flexible Cyber-Secure Radio (FlexCSR) program, the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory are jointly developing a unique cybersecurity solution for tactical unmanned systems (UxS): the FlexCSR Security/Cyber Module (SCM) End Cryptographic Unit (ECU). To deal with possible loss of unmanned systems that contain the device, the SCM ECU uses only publicly available Commercial National Security Algorithms and a Tactical Key Management system to generate and distribute onboard mission keys that are destroyed at mission completion or upon compromise. This also significantly reduces the logistic complexity traditionally involved with protection and loading of classified cryptographic keys. The SCM ECU is on track to be certified by the National Security Agency for protecting tactical data-in-transit up to Secret level. The FlexCSR SCM ECU is the first stand-alone cryptographic module that conforms to the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Communications Architecture for Unmanned Systems, an initiative by the Office of the Secretary of Defense supporting the interoperability pillar of the DoD Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap. It is a credit card-sized enclosed unit that provides USB interfaces for plaintext and ciphertext, support for radio controls and management, and a software Application Programming Interface that together allow easy integration into tactical UxS communication systems. This paper gives an overview of the architecture, interfaces, usage, and development and approval schedule of the device.
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Summary

Under the Navy's Flexible Cyber-Secure Radio (FlexCSR) program, the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory are jointly developing a unique cybersecurity solution for tactical unmanned systems (UxS): the FlexCSR Security/Cyber Module (SCM) End Cryptographic Unit (ECU). To deal with possible loss of unmanned...

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Supporting security sensitive tenants in a bare-metal cloud

Summary

Bolted is a new architecture for bare-metal clouds that enables tenants to control tradeoffs between security, price, and performance. Security-sensitive tenants can minimize their trust in the public cloud provider and achieve similar levels of security and control that they can obtain in their own private data centers. At the same time, Bolted neither imposes overhead on tenants that are security insensitive nor compromises the flexibility or operational efficiency of the provider. Our prototype exploits a novel provisioning system and specialized firmware to enable elasticity similar to virtualized clouds. Experimentally we quantify the cost of different levels of security for a variety of workloads and demonstrate the value of giving control to the tenant.
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Summary

Bolted is a new architecture for bare-metal clouds that enables tenants to control tradeoffs between security, price, and performance. Security-sensitive tenants can minimize their trust in the public cloud provider and achieve similar levels of security and control that they can obtain in their own private data centers. At the...

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