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Detecting exploit code execution in loadable kernel modules

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3 Author(s)
Xu, H. ; Syst. Assurance Inst., Syracuse Univ., NY, USA ; Wenliang Du ; Chapin, S.J.

In current extensible monolithic operating systems, loadable kernel modules (LKM) have unrestricted access to all portions of kernel memory and I/O space. As a result, kernel-module exploitation can jeopardize the integrity of the entire system. In this paper, we analyze the threat that comes from the implicit trust relationship between the operating system kernel and loadable kernel modules. We then present a specification-directed access monitoring tool - HECK, that detects kernel modules for malicious code execution. Inside the module, HECK prevents code execution on the kernel stack and the data sections; on the boundary, HECK restricts the module's access to only those kernel resources necessary for the module's operation. Our measurements show that our tool incurs 5-23% overhead on some I/O intensive applications using these modules.

Published in:

Computer Security Applications Conference, 2004. 20th Annual

Date of Conference:

6-10 Dec. 2004

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