Device-agnostic Firmware Execution is Possible: A Concolic Execution Approach for Peripheral Emulation

Chen Cao, Le Guan, Jiang Ming, Peng Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

With the rapid proliferation of IoT devices, our cyberspace is nowadays dominated by billions of low-cost computing nodes, which are very heterogeneous to each other. Dynamic analysis, one of the most effective approaches to finding software bugs, has become paralyzed due to the lack of a generic emulator capable of running diverse previously-unseen firmware. In recent years, we have witnessed devastating security breaches targeting low-end microcontroller-based IoT devices. These security concerns have significantly hamstrung further evolution of the IoT technology. In this work, we present Laelaps, a device emulator specifically designed to run diverse software of microcontroller devices. We do not encode into our emulator any specific information about a device. Instead, Laelaps infers the expected behavior of firmware via symbolic-execution-assisted peripheral emulation and generates proper inputs to steer concrete execution on the fly. This unique design feature makes Laelaps capable of running diverse firmware with no a priori knowledge about the target device. To demonstrate the capabilities of Laelaps, we applied dynamic analysis techniques on top of our emulator. We successfully identified both self-injected and real-world vulnerabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 36th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2020
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages746-759
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450388580
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 7 2020
Event36th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Dec 7 2020Dec 11 2020

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series

Conference

Conference36th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2020
CountryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period12/7/2012/11/20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software

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