Dongseok Jang, Zachary Tatlock, and Sorin Lerner. SafeDispatch: Securing C++ virtual calls from memory corruption attacks. In 20th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS '14. The Internet Society, 2014.

Several defenses have increased the cost of traditional, low-level attacks that corrupt control data, e.g. return addresses saved on the stack, to compromise program execution. In response, creative adversaries have begun circumventing these defenses by exploiting programming errors to manipulate pointers to virtual tables, or vtables, of C++ objects. These attacks can hijack program control flow whenever a virtual method of a corrupted object is called, potentially allowing the attacker to gain complete control of the underlying system. In this paper we present SafeDispatch, a novel defense to prevent such vtable hijacking by statically analyzing C++ programs and inserting sufficient runtime checks to ensure that control flow at virtual method call sites cannot be arbitrarily influenced by an attacker. We implemented SafeDispatch as a Clang++/LLVM extension, used our enhanced compiler to build a vtable-safe version of the Google Chromium browser, and measured the performance overhead of our approach on popular browser benchmark suites. By carefully crafting a handful of optimizations, we were able to reduce average runtime overhead to just 2.1%.

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