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All You Ever Wanted to Know about Dynamic Taint Analysis and Forward Symbolic Execution (but Might Have Been Afraid to Ask)

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3 Author(s)
Schwartz, E.J. ; Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA, USA ; Avgerinos, T. ; Brumley, D.

Dynamic taint analysis and forward symbolic execution are quickly becoming staple techniques in security analyses. Example applications of dynamic taint analysis and forward symbolic execution include malware analysis, input filter generation, test case generation, and vulnerability discovery. Despite the widespread usage of these two techniques, there has been little effort to formally define the algorithms and summarize the critical issues that arise when these techniques are used in typical security contexts. The contributions of this paper are two-fold. First, we precisely describe the algorithms for dynamic taint analysis and forward symbolic execution as extensions to the run-time semantics of a general language. Second, we highlight important implementation choices, common pitfalls, and considerations when using these techniques in a security context.

Published in:

Security and Privacy (SP), 2010 IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference:

16-19 May 2010