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Interesting paper: "Chaff bugs"

  1. Aug 11, 2018 at 7:44 PM #1

    jim mcnamara

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    https://arxiv.org/abs/1808.00659
    Popular version: https://techxplore.com/news/2018-08-defensive-technique-software-buggier.html

    The basic idea here is to create a large number of non-exploitable bugs, then add them to existing code. Do not worry as much about remediating existing bugs.

    The "bad guys" have a greatly reduced chance of finding and exploiting a real bug because they keep finding chaff bugs instead. Wasting resources. The most time consuming task facing intruders is locating bugs to exploit. Analogy: It is like having a tub of cubic zirconium "diamonds" with one or two real ones mixed in. Finding the real diamonds takes a large amount of time. Cubic zirconium fakes can be detected but takes some time. If it becomes sufficiently tedious it may not be worth the huge amount of time spent.

    Abstract:
    The red-highlighted phrase seems to me to be the hard part. Disguising the fake bugs. If all of the fake bugs are similar somehow then one can write algorithms to find and then mark the fakes as fake.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018 at 7:55 PM
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2018 at 9:36 PM #2

    anorlunda

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    I see. Pretty clever. Good name too: chaff.

    But I'm skeptical if it would really work unless the benign bugs were very cleverly designed. Clever design means taking design effort away from the legit purposes of the code. I can't see management ever approving that.
     
  4. Aug 11, 2018 at 11:25 PM #3

    jedishrfu

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    I think it’s too early to say here that it can be defeated so easily and it’s too early to say if it will even work. I am reminded of all the “junk” dna we carry which might come back into play at some time in the future.

    If the hacker had access to the source then this would be harder to hide as someone would inevitably leave a helpful comment. However, if this is inserted into the binary executable with blocks of junk code then it could make reengineering more difficult. If we could also insert code that makes it difficult for a debugger to follow then that too would make it more difficult to figure out. The downfall of course is the allgorithm doing the insertion. It would give hackers a key to figuring out what code to ignore in the obfuscate binary.
     
  5. Aug 12, 2018 at 5:58 AM #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Microsoft has been trying this strategy for years. :wink:
     
  6. Aug 12, 2018 at 6:47 AM #5

    jim mcnamara

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    @Vanadium 50 - do you have some kind of link for that? You would think the researchers could have been aware of it.
     
  7. Aug 12, 2018 at 6:56 AM #6

    anorlunda

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    No no. V50's post was sarcasm.
     
  8. Aug 12, 2018 at 7:02 AM #7

    jim mcnamara

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  9. Aug 13, 2018 at 2:49 AM #8
    I see it a little bit problematic that unfortunately the bug-hunt of end-products are often made by security specialists not related to the owner of the code. Their work also will get harder, no?
    For me this idea quite sounds like a big rug to cover up the real issue instead of addressing it.
     
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