Proceedings of ISP RAS

Buffer overrun detection method in binary code

V.V. Kaushan (ISP RAS, Moscow, Russia)


Buffer overflows are one of the most common and dangerous software errors. Exploitation of such errors can lead to an arbitrary code execution and system disclosure. This paper considers a method for detecting memory violations. The method is based on combined (static-dynamic) analysis of binary code. Analysis is based on symbolic interpretation of machine instructions executed during a single program run. Proposed method also provides abstraction from buffer sizes and can reveal sizes that cause buffer overflow errors. Analysis can be applied to program binaries and doesn't require a source code. Two techniques are proposed to improve method precision: cycle analysis and code coverage increase. Cycle analysis is one of the cumbersome problems in dynamic analysis. Separate cycle instruction analysis leads to an excess of constraints over input data that causes potential false negatives. The proposed technique is able to analyze cycles entirely and abstract from number of cycle iterations. One of the drawbacks of a single run analysis is an insufficient code coverage which prevents some errors from discovery. The technique proposed to increase code coverage is based on a dynamic symbolic execution. Some minimal path set from discovered code paths is selected and used to achieve better code coverage than from a single run. Inputs corresponding to each path from selected set are used to analyze several program runs. Proposed techniques were implemented and used to discover both known and non-disclosed bugs.


bug finding, binary code, dynamic analysis, symbolic execution


Proceedings of the Institute for System Programming, vol. 28, issue 5, 2016, pp. 135-144.

ISSN 2220-6426 (Online), ISSN 2079-8156 (Print).

DOI: 10.15514/ISPRAS-2016-28(5)-8

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