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Keeping Safe Rust safe with Galeed

Published in:
Annual Computer Security Applications Conf., ACSAC, December 2021, pp. 824-36.

Summary

Rust is a programming language that simultaneously offers high performance and strong security guarantees. Safe Rust (i.e., Rust code that does not use the unsafe keyword) is memory and type safe. However, these guarantees are violated when safe Rust interacts with unsafe code, most notably code written in other programming languages, including in legacy C/C++ applications that are incrementally deploying Rust. This is a significant problem as major applications such as Firefox, Chrome, AWS, Windows, and Linux have either deployed Rust or are exploring doing so. It is important to emphasize that unsafe code is not only unsafe itself, but also it breaks the safety guarantees of ‘safe’ Rust; e.g., a dangling pointer in a linked C/C++ library can access and overwrite memory allocated to Rust even when the Rust code is fully safe. This paper presents Galeed, a technique to keep safe Rust safe from interference from unsafe code. Galeed has two components: a runtime defense to prevent unintended interactions between safe Rust and unsafe code and a sanitizer to secure intended interactions. The runtime component works by isolating Rust’s heap from any external access and is enforced using Intel Memory Protection Key (MPK) technology. The sanitizer uses a smart data structure that we call pseudo-pointer along with automated code transformation to avoid passing raw pointers across safe/unsafe boundaries during intended interactions (e.g., when Rust and C++ code exchange data). We implement and evaluate the effectiveness and performance of Galeed via micro- and macro-benchmarking, and use it to secure a widely used component of Firefox.
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Summary

Rust is a programming language that simultaneously offers high performance and strong security guarantees. Safe Rust (i.e., Rust code that does not use the unsafe keyword) is memory and type safe. However, these guarantees are violated when safe Rust interacts with unsafe code, most notably code written in other programming...

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One giant leap for computer security

Summary

Today's computer systems trace their roots to an era of trusted users and highly constrained hardware; thus, their designs fundamentally emphasize performance and discount security. This article presents a vision for how small steps using existing technologies can be combined into one giant leap for computer security.
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Summary

Today's computer systems trace their roots to an era of trusted users and highly constrained hardware; thus, their designs fundamentally emphasize performance and discount security. This article presents a vision for how small steps using existing technologies can be combined into one giant leap for computer security.

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Security considerations for next-generation operating systems for cyber-physical systems

Published in:
1st Intl. Workshop on Next-Generation Operating Systems for Cyber-Physical Systems, NGOSCPS, 15 April 2019.

Summary

Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) are increasingly targeted in high-profile cyber attacks. Examples of such attacks include Stuxnet, which targeted nuclear centrifuges; Crashoverride, and Triton, which targeted power grids; and the Mirai botnet, which targeted internet-of-things (IoT) devices such as cameras to carry out a large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Such attacks demonstrate the importance of securing current and future cyber-physical systems. Therefore, next-generation operating systems (OSes) for CPS need to be designed to provide security features necessary, as well as be secure in and of themselves. CPSs are designed with one of three broad classes of OSes: (a) bare-metal applications with effectively no operating system, (b) embedded systems executing on impoverished platforms running an embedded or real-time operating system (RTOS) such as FreeRTOS, or (c) more performant platforms running general purpose OSes such as Linux, sometimes tuned for real-time performance such as through the PREEMPT_RT patch. In cases (a) and (b), the OS, if any, is very minimal to facilitate improved resource utilization in real-time or latency-sensitive applications, especially running on impoverished hardware platforms. In such OSes, security is often overlooked, and many important security features (e.g. process/kernel memory isolation) are notably absent. In case (c), the general-purpose OS inherits many of the security-related features that are critical in enterprise and general-purpose applications, such as virtual memory and address-space layout randomization (ASLR). However, the highly complex nature of general-purpose OSes can be problematic in the development of CPSs, as they are highly non-deterministic and difficult to formally reason about for cyber-physical applications, which often have real-time constraints. These issues motivate the need for a next generation OS that is highly capable, predictable and deterministic for real-time performance, but also secure in the face of many of the next generation of cyber threats. In order to design such a next-generation OS, it is necessary to first reflect on the types of threats that CPSs face, including the attacker intentions and types of effects that can be achieved, as well as the type of access that attackers have. While threat models are not the same for all CPSs, it is important to understand how the threat models for CPSs compare to general-purpose or enterprise computing environments. We discuss these issues next (Sec. 2), before providing insights and recommendations for approaches to incorporate in next-generation OSes for CPS in Sec. 3.
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Summary

Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) are increasingly targeted in high-profile cyber attacks. Examples of such attacks include Stuxnet, which targeted nuclear centrifuges; Crashoverride, and Triton, which targeted power grids; and the Mirai botnet, which targeted internet-of-things (IoT) devices such as cameras to carry out a large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Such attacks...

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