ELFbac: Using the Loader Format for Intent-Level Semantics and Fine-Grained Protection
Adversaries get software to do bad things by rewriting memory and changing control flow. Current approaches to protecting against these attacks leave many exposures; for example, OS-level filesystem protection and OS/architecture support of the userspace/kernelspace distinction fail to protect corrupted userspace code from changing userspace data. In this paper we present a new approach: using the ELF/ABI sections already produced by the standard binary toolchain to define, specify, and enforce fine-grained policy within an application’s address space. We experimentally show that enforcement of such policies would stop a large body of current attacks and discuss ways we could extend existing architecture to more efficiently provide such enforcement. Our approach is designed to work with existing ELF executables and the GNU build chain, but it can be extended into the compiler toolchains to support code annotations that take advantage of ELFbac enforcement—while maintaining full compatibility with the existing ELF ABI.
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