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Type unions, pointer variables and function pointers are a long standing source of subtle security bugs in C program code. Their use can lead to hard-to-diagnose crashes or exploitable vulnerabilities that allow an attacker to attain privileged access over classified data. This paper describes an automatable framework for detecting such weaknesses in C programs statically, where possible, and for generating assertions that will detect them dynamically, in other cases. Exclusively based on analysis of the source code, it identifies required assertions using a type inference system supported by a custom made symbol table. In our preliminary findings, our type system was able to infer the correct type of unions in different scopes, without manual code annotations or rewriting. Whenever an evaluation is not possible or is difficult to resolve, appropriate runtime assertions are formed and inserted into the source code. The approach is demonstrated via a prototype C analysis tool.
Date of Conference: 1-3 Sept. 2010