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  • CS Colloquium: Xinyu Xing (Pennsylvania State University) - Tracking down Software Vulnerabilities from Unexpected Crashes

    Tue, Oct 09, 2018 @ 03:40 PM - 04:50 PM

    Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars

    Speaker: Xinyu Xing, Pennsylvania State University

    Talk Title: Tracking down Software Vulnerabilities from Unexpected Crashes

    Series: Computer Science Colloquium

    Abstract: Despite the best efforts of developers, software inevitably contains flaws that may be leveraged as security vulnerabilities. Modern operating systems integrate various security mechanisms to prevent software faults from being exploited. To bypass these defenses and hijack program execution, an attacker therefore needs to constantly mutate an exploit and make many attempts. While in their attempts, the exploit triggers a security vulnerability and makes the running process terminate abnormally.

    After a program has crashed and terminated abnormally, it typically leaves behind a snapshot of its crashing state in the form of a core dump. While a core dump carries a large amount of information, which has long been used for software debugging, it barely serves as informative debugging aids in locating software faults, particularly memory corruption vulnerabilities. As such, previous research mainly seeks fully reproducible execution tracing to identify software vulnerabilities in crashes. However, such techniques are usually impractical for complex programs. Even for simple programs, the overhead of fully reproducible tracing may only be acceptable at the time of in-house testing.

    In this talk, I will introduce a reverse execution technique, which takes as input a core dump, reversely executes the corresponding crashing program and automatically pinpoints the root cause of the vulnerable site hidden behind the crash. In the process of performing reverse execution, our technique typically encounters uncertainty (e.g., uncertain control or data flow) which significantly influence the capability of identifying vulnerabilities. Therefore, as part of the talk, I will also briefly discuss how we utilize deep recurrent neural network to tackle this technical challenge.

    This lecture satisfies requirements for CSCI 591: Research Colloquium.

    Biography: Dr. Xinyu Xing is an Assistant Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. His research interest includes exploring, designing and developing tools to automate vulnerability discovery, failure reproduction, vulnerability diagnosis (and triage), exploit and security patch generation. Recently, he is also interested in developing deep learning techniques to perform highly accurate binary and malware analysis. His past research has been featured by many mainstream medium, such as Technology Review, New Scientists and NYTimes etc. Going beyond academic research, he also actively participates and hosts many world-class cybersecurity competitions (such as HITB and XCTF). This year, his team was selected for DEFCON/GeekPwn CAAD challenge grand final at Las Vegas. He led Penn State to finish NSA code breaker competition 2017 and ranked at the top 3 nationwide. In the white-hat hacker community, his research team has contributed many CVEs for the open source community. The tools his team developed have been downloaded by thousands of developers and security researchers.

    Host: Muhammad Naveed

    Location: Henry Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL) - 101

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Computer Science Department

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