Formalizing sensitivity in static analysis for intrusion detection

Henry Hanping Feng, Jonathon T. Giffin, Yong Huang, Somesh Jha, Wenke Lee, and Barton P. Miller.

In IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

Oakland, California, May 2004.

A key function of a host-based intrusion detection system is to monitor program execution. Models constructed using static analysis have the highly desirable feature that they do not produce false alarms; however, they may still miss attacks. Prior work has shown a trade-off between efficiency and precision. In particular, the more accurate models based upon pushdown automata (PDA) are very inefficient to operate due to non-determinism in stack activity. In this paper, we present techniques for determinizing PDA models. We first provide a formal analysis framework of PDA models and introduce the concepts of determinism and stack-determinism. We then present the VPStatic model, which achieves determinism by extracting information about stack activity of the program, and the Dyck model, which achieves stack-determinism by transforming the program and inserting code to expose program state. Our results show that in run-time monitoring, our models slow execution of our test programs by 1% to 135%. This shows that reasonable efficiency needs not be sacrificed for model precision. We also compare the two models and discover that deterministic PDA are more efficient, although stack-deterministic PDA require less memory.

Paper: [pdf] [ps]
Slides: [ppt]

This page updated October 14, 2005.