Hardware-Assisted Fine-Grained Control-Flow Integrity: Towards Efficient Protection of Embedded Systems Against Software Exploitation

AutorDavi, Lucas; Koeberl, Patrick; Sadeghi, Ahmad-Reza
ArtConference Proceedings
AbstraktEmbedded systems have become pervasive and are built into a vast number of devices such as sensors, vehicles, mobile and wearable devices. However, due to resource constraints, they fail to provide sufficient security, and are particularly vulnerable to runtime attacks (code injection and ROP). Previous works have proposed the enforcement of control-flow integrity (CFI) as a general defense against runtime attacks. However, existing solutions either suffer from performance overhead or only enforce coarse-grain CFI policies that a sophisticated adversary can undermine. In this paper, we tackle these limitations and present the design of novel security hardware mechanisms to enable fine-grained CFI checks. Our CFI proposal is based on a state model and a per-function CFI label approach. In particular, our CFI policies ensure that function returns can only transfer control to active call sides (i.e., return landing pads of functions currently executing). Further, we restrict indirect calls to target the beginning of a function, and lastly, deploy behavioral heuristics for indirect jumps.
In51st Design Automation Conference (DAC) - Special Session: Trusted Mobile Embedded Computing