RAGuard: An Efficient and User-Transparent Hardware Mechanism against ROP Attacks.


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Control-flow integrity (CFI) is a general method for preventing code-reuse attacks, which utilize benign code sequences to achieve arbitrary code execution. CFI ensures that the execution of a program follows the edges of its predefined static Control-Flow Graph: any deviation that constitutes a CFI violation terminates the application. Despite decades of research effort, there are still several implementation challenges in efficiently protecting the control flow of function returns (Return-Oriented Programming attacks). The set of valid return addresses of frequently called functions can be large and thus an attacker could bend the backward-edge CFI by modifying an indirect branch target to another within the valid return set. This article proposes RAGuard, an efficient and user-transparent hardware-based approach to prevent Return-Oreiented Programming attacks. RAGuard binds a message authentication code (MAC) to each return address to protect its integrity. To guarantee the security of the MAC and reduce runtime overhead: RAGuard (1) computes the MAC by encrypting the signature of a return address with AES-128, (2) develops a key management module based on a Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) and a True Random Number Generator (TRNG), and (3) uses a dedicated register to reduce MACs’ load and store operations of leaf functions. We have evaluated our mechanism based on the open-source LEON3 processor and the results show that RAGuard incurs acceptable performance overhead and occupies reasonable area.
AES-128, Code-reuse attacks, PUF, key management, message authentication code, return-oriented programming attacks
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