Strato: A retargetable framework for low-level inlined-reference monitors

Bin Zeng, Gang Tan, Úlfar Erlingsson

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

27 Scopus citations


Low-level Inlined Reference Monitors (IRM) such as control-flow integrity and software-based fault isolation can foil numerous software attacks. Conventionally, those IRMs are implemented through binary rewriting or transformation on equivalent low-level programs that are tightly coupled with a specific Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). Resulting implementations have poor retargetability to different ISAs. This paper introduces an IRM-implementation framework at a compiler intermediate-representation (IR) level. The IR-level framework enables easy retargetability to different ISAs, but raises the challenge of how to preserve security at the low level, as the compiler backend might invalidate the assumptions at the IR level. We propose a constraint language to encode the assumptions and check whether they still hold after the backend transformations and optimizations. Furthermore, an independent verifier is implemented to validate the security of low-level code. We have implemented the framework inside LLVM to enforce the policy of control-flow integrity and data sand-boxing for both reads and writes. Experimental results demonstrate that it incurs modest runtime overhead of 19.90% and 25.34% on SPECint2000 programs for x86-32 and x86-64, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 22nd USENIX Security Symposium
PublisherUSENIX Association
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781931971034
StatePublished - 2013
Event22nd USENIX Security Symposium - Washington, United States
Duration: Aug 14 2013Aug 16 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 22nd USENIX Security Symposium


Conference22nd USENIX Security Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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