Purdue University Graduate School
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Retrowrite: Statically Instrumenting COTS Binaries for Fuzzing and Sanitization

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posted on 2019-06-10, 19:09 authored by Sushant DineshSushant Dinesh
End users of closed-source software currently cannot easily analyze the security
of programs or patch them if flaws are found. Notably, end users can include devel
opers who use third party libraries. The current state of the art for coverage-guided
binary fuzzing or binary sanitization is dynamic binary translation, which results
in prohibitive overhead. Existing static rewriting techniques cannot fully recover
symbolization information, and so have difficulty modifying binaries to track code
coverage for fuzzing or add security checks for sanitizers.
The ideal solution for adding instrumentation is a static rewriter that can intel
ligently add in the required instrumentation as if it were inserted at compile time.
This requires analysis to statically disambiguate between references and scalars, a
problem known to be undecidable in the general case. We show that recovering this
information is possible in practice for the most common class of software and li
braries: 64 bit, position independent code. Based on our observation, we design a
binary-rewriting instrumentation to support American Fuzzy Lop (AFL) and Address
Sanitizer (ASan), and show that we achieve compiler levels of performance, while re
taining precision. Binaries rewritten for coverage-guided fuzzing using RetroWrite
are identical in performance to compiler-instrumented binaries and outperforms the
default QEMU-based instrumentation by 7.5x while triggering more bugs. Our im
plementation of binary-only Address Sanitizer is 3x faster than Valgrind memcheck,
the state-of-the-art binary-only memory checker, and detects 80% more bugs in our
security evaluation.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Computer Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Mathias Payer

Additional Committee Member 2

Dongyan Xu

Additional Committee Member 3

Benjamin Delaware

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