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Unleashing Mayhem on Binary Code


Teddy Rogers
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In this paper we present MAYHEM, a new system for automatically finding exploitable bugs in binary (i.e., executable) programs. Every bug reported by MAYHEM is accompanied by a working shell-spawning exploit. The working exploits ensure soundness and that each bug report is security critical and actionable. MAYHEM works on raw binary code without debugging information. To make exploit generation possible at the binary-level, MAYHEM addresses two major technical challenges: actively managing execution paths without exhausting memory, and reasoning about symbolic memory indices, where a load or a store address depends on user input. To this end, we propose two novel techniques:

1) hybrid symbolic execution for combining online and offline (concolic) execution to maximize the benefits of both techniques, and
2) index-based memory modeling, a technique that allows MAYHEM to efficiently reason about symbolic memory at the binary level.

We used MAYHEM to find and demonstrate 29 exploitable vulnerabilities in both Linux and Windows programs, 2 of which were previously undocumented.

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