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What and Who

Techniques to enforce security policies on untrusted applications

Anjo Vahldiek-Oberwagner
SWS Student Defense Talks - Thesis Proposal
Public Audience

Date, Time and Location

Monday, 7 August 2017
60 Minutes
E1 5


As the dependence on ever-present computer systems increases, so does the potential harm in case software or hardware deviates from user expectations. Users lose data or find illicitly leaked data. To overcome such inadvertent behavior, existing reference monitors fail to (1) protect the confidentiality and integrity of persistent data, and (2) efficiently and robustly mediate untrusted applications.

In this proposal we present two reference monitors targeting these shortcomings. We demonstrate the design, implementation, and evaluation of Guardat and ERIM.

The policies protecting persistent data and the mechanisms for their enforcement are spread over many software components and configuration files, increasing the risk of policy violation due to bugs, vulnerabilities and misconfiguration. In Guardat users, developers and administrators specify file protection policies declaratively, concisely and separate from code, and Guardat enforces these policies by mediating I/O in the storage layer. Policy enforcement relies only on the integrity of the Guardat controller and any external policy dependencies. We show experimentally that Guardat overhead is low.

While Guardat enforces at the storage layer, it cannot enforce policies over in-memory state of untrusted applications. In contrast to existing techniques, ERIM efficiently mediates an application’s execution by isolating a reference monitor in the same address space. By using Intel Memory Protection Keys in combination with static binary rewriting, ERIM isolates the monitor’s state from strong, malicious adversaries. We propose binary rewriting rules to harden existing executable files and detail use cases in which prior art relied on less robust protection at similar performance.


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Maria-Louise Albrecht, 08/09/2017 17:09 -- Created document.