Execution Integrity with In-Place Encryption

AuthorSullivan, Dean; Arias, Orlando; Gens, David; Davi, Lucas; Sadeghi, Ahmad-Reza; Jin, Yier
TypeJournal Article
AbstractInstruction set randomization (ISR) was initially proposed with the main goal of countering code-injection attacks. However, ISR seems to have lost its appeal since code-injection attacks became less attractive because protection mechanisms such as data execution prevention (DEP) as well as code-reuse attacks became more prevalent. In this paper, we show that ISR can be extended to also protect against code-reuse attacks while at the same time offering security guarantees similar to those of software diversity, control-flow integrity, and information hiding. We present Scylla, a scheme that deploys a new technique for in-place code encryption to hide the code layout of a randomized binary, and restricts the control flow to a benign execution path. This allows us to i) implicitly restrict control-flow targets to basic block entries without requiring the extraction of a control-flow graph, ii) achieve execution integrity within legitimate basic blocks, and iii) hide the underlying code layout under malicious read access to the program. Our analysis demonstrates that Scylla is capable of preventing state-of-the-art attacks such as just-in-time return-oriented programming (JIT-ROP) and crash-resistant oriented programming (CROP). We extensively evaluate our prototype implementation of Scylla and show feasible performance overhead. We also provide details on how this overhead can be significantly reduced with dedicated hardware support.