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Recent Papers Related To Fuzzing

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All Papers (Classification according to Publication)

All Papers (Classification according to Subject)

Survey/Review

Fuzzing: Challenges and Reflections

Abstract: Fuzzing is a method to discover software bugs and vulnerabilities by automatic test input generation which has found tremendous recent interest in both academia and industry. Fuzzing comes in the form of several techniques. On one hand, we have symbolic execution, which enables a particularly effective approach to fuzzing by systematically enumerating the paths of a program. On the other hand, we have random input generation, which generates large amounts of inputs per second with none or minimal program analysis overhead. In this article, we summarize the open challenges and opportunities for fuzzing and symbolic execution as they emerged in discussions among researchers and practitioners in a Shonan Meeting, and were validated in a subsequent survey. We take a forward-looking view of the software vulnerability discovery technologies and provide concrete directions for future research.

SoK: The Progress, Challenges, and Perspectives of Directed Greybox Fuzzing

Abstract: Greybox fuzzing has been the most scalable and practical approach to software testing. Most greybox fuzzing tools are coverage guided as code coverage is strongly correlated with bug coverage. However, since most covered codes may not containbugs, blindly extending code coverage is less efficient, especially for corner cases. Unlike coverage-based fuzzers who extend the code coverage in an undirected manner, a directed fuzzer spends most of its time budget on reaching specific target locations (e.g.,the bug-prone zone) without wasting resources stressing unrelated parts. Thus, directed greybox fuzzing is particularly suitable for scenarios such as patch testing, bug reproduction, and special bug hunting. In this paper, we conduct the first in-depth study of directed greybox fuzzing. We investigate 28 state-of-the-artfuzzers (82% are published after 2019) closely related to DGF, which have various directed types and optimization techniques. Based on the feature of DGF, we extract 15 metrics to conducta thorough assessment of the collected tools and systemize the knowledge of this field. Finally, we summarize the challenges and provide perspectives of this field, aiming to facilitate and boost future research on this topic.

Fuzzing: Hack, Art, and Science (CACM 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing, or fuzz testing, is the process of finding security vulnerabilities in input-parsing code by repeatedly testing the parser with modified, or fuzzed, inputs.35 Since the early 2000s, fuzzing has become a mainstream practice in assessing software security. Thousands of security vulnerabilities have been found while fuzzing all kinds of software applications for processing documents, images, sounds, videos, network packets, Web pages, among others. These applications must deal with untrusted inputs encoded in complex data formats. For example, the Microsoft Windows operating system supports over 360 file formats and includes millions of lines of code just to handle all of these.

Survey of Directed Fuzzy Technology

Abstract: The fuzzy testing technology can effectively detect vulnerabilities. Based on Directed Symbolic Execution (DSE) fuzzing and Directed Grey Box Fuzzing (DGF), which can reach the specified target locations and scan the vulnerability quickly and efficiently. This paper introduces the theoretical knowledge of directed fuzzy testing technology, and several state-of-the-art fuzzy testing tools to elaborate the principle, advantages, disadvantages and the prospect of directed fuzzy technology.

A Review of Machine Learning Applications in Fuzzing

Abstract: Fuzzing has played an important role in improving software development and testing over the course of several decades. Recent research in fuzzing has focused on applications of machine learning (ML), offering useful tools to overcome challenges in the fuzzing process. This review surveys the current research in applying ML to fuzzing. Specifically, this review discusses successful applications of ML to fuzzing, briefly explores challenges encountered, and motivates future research to address fuzzing bottlenecks.

A systematic review of fuzzing based on machine learning techniques

Abstract: Security vulnerabilities play a vital role in network security system. Fuzzing technology is widely used as a vulnerability discovery technology to reduce damage in advance. However, traditional fuzzing techniques have many challenges, such as how to mutate input seed files, how to increase code coverage, and how to effectively bypass verification. Machine learning technology has been introduced as a new method into fuzzing test to alleviate these challenges. This paper reviews the research progress of using machine learning technology for fuzzing test in recent years, analyzes how machine learning improve the fuzz process and results, and sheds light on future work in fuzzing. Firstly, this paper discusses the reasons why machine learning techniques can be used for fuzzing scenarios and identifies six different stages in which machine learning have been used. Then this paper systematically study the machine learning based fuzzing models from selection of machine learning algorithm, pre-processing methods, datasets, evaluation metrics, and hyperparameters setting. Next, this paper assesses the performance of the machine learning models based on the frequently used evaluation metrics. The results of the evaluation prove that machine learning technology has an acceptable capability of categorize predictive for fuzzing. Finally, the comparison on capability of discovering vulnerabilities between traditional fuzzing tools and machine learning based fuzzing tools is analyzed. The results depict that the introduction of machine learning technology can improve the performance of fuzzing. However, there are still some limitations, such as unbalanced training samples and difficult to extract the characteristics related to vulnerabilities.

The Art, Science, and Engineering of Fuzzing: A Survey

Abstract: Among the many software testing techniques available today, fuzzing has remained highly popular due to its conceptual simplicity, its low barrier to deployment, and its vast amount of empirical evidence in discovering real-world software vulnerabilities. At a high level, fuzzing refers to a process of repeatedly running a program with generated inputs that may be syntactically or semantically malformed. While researchers and practitioners alike have invested a large and diverse effort towards improving fuzzing in recent years, this surge of work has also made it difficult to gain a comprehensive and coherent view of fuzzing. To help preserve and bring coherence to the vast literature of fuzzing, this paper presents a unified, general-purpose model of fuzzing together with a taxonomy of the current fuzzing literature. We methodically explore the design decisions at every stage of our model fuzzer by surveying the related literature and innovations in the art, science, and engineering that make modern-day fuzzers effective.

Fuzzing: Art, Science, and Engineering

Abstract: Among the many software vulnerability discovery techniques available today, fuzzing has remained highly popular due to its conceptual simplicity, its low barrier to deployment, and its vast amount of empirical evidence in discovering real-world software vulnerabilities. At a high level, fuzzing refers to a process of repeatedly running a program with generated inputs that may be syntactically or semantically malformed. While researchers and practitioners alike have invested a large and diverse effort towards improving fuzzing in recent years, this surge of work has also made it difficult to gain a comprehensive and coherent view of fuzzing. To help preserve and bring coherence to the vast literature of fuzzing, this paper presents a unified, general-purpose model of fuzzing together with a taxonomy of the current fuzzing literature. We methodically explore the design decisions at every stage of our model fuzzer by surveying the related literature and innovations in the art, science, and engineering that make modern-day fuzzers effective.

Fuzzing: a survey

Abstract: Security vulnerability is one of the root causes of cyber-security threats. To discover vulnerabilities and fix them in advance, researchers have proposed several techniques, among which fuzzing is the most widely used one. In recent years, fuzzing solutions, like AFL, have made great improvements in vulnerability discovery. This paper presents a summary of the recent advances, analyzes how they improve the fuzzing process, and sheds light on future work in fuzzing. Firstly, we discuss the reason why fuzzing is popular, by comparing different commonly used vulnerability discovery techniques. Then we present an overview of fuzzing solutions, and discuss in detail one of the most popular type of fuzzing, i.e., coverage-based fuzzing. Then we present other techniques that could make fuzzing process smarter and more efficient. Finally, we show some applications of fuzzing, and discuss new trends of fuzzing and potential future directions.

Fuzzing: State of the art

Abstract: As one of the most popular software testing techniques, fuzzing can find a variety of weaknesses in a program, such as software bugs and vulnerabilities, by generating numerous test inputs. Due to its effectiveness, fuzzing is regarded as a valuable bug hunting method. In this paper, we present an overview of fuzzing that concentrates on its general process, as well as classifications, followed by detailed discussion of the key obstacles and some state-of-the-art technologies which aim to overcome or mitigate these obstacles. We further investigate and classify several widely used fuzzing tools. Our primary goal is to equip the stakeholder with a better understanding of fuzzing and the potential solutions for improving fuzzing methods in the spectrum of software testing and security. To inspire future research, we also predict some future directions with regard to fuzzing.

A Review of Fuzzing Tools and Methods

Abstract: This paper reviewed some of the most noteworthy academic literature and practical work that has been produced in the field of fuzzing. We first examined how vulnerabilities come to exist in software and how security researchers find them. After a brief overview of common vulnerability types and methods of static analysis, we looked in depth at the field of fuzzing. Competing approaches to fuzzing were examined, from simple random inputs all the way to using genetic algorithms and taint analysis. The importance of measuring code coverage to evaluate the completeness of a fuzzing campaign was examined. Finally, the focus was placed on the fuzz testing of web browsers and the specific tools and techniques related to that.

Differential Fuzzing

Duo: Differential Fuzzing for Deep Learning Operators (IEEE Transactions on Reliability 2021)

Abstract: Deep learning (DL) libraries reduce the barriers to the DL model construction. In DL libraries, various building blocks are DL operators with different functionality, responsible for processing high-dimensional tensors during training and inference. Thus, the quality of operators could directly impact the quality of models. However, existing DL testing techniques mainly focus on robustness testing of trained neural network models and cannot locate DL operators’ defects. The insufficient test input and undetermined test output in operator testing have become challenging for DL library developers. In this article, we propose an approach, namely Duo, which combines fuzzing techniques and differential testing techniques to generate input and evaluate corresponding output. It implements mutation-based fuzzing to produce tensor inputs by employing nine mutation operators derived from genetic algorithms and differential testing to evaluate outputs’ correctness from multiple operator instances. Duo is implemented in a tool and used to evaluate seven operators from TensorFlow, PyTorch, MNN, and MXNet in an experiment. The result shows that Duo can expose defects of DL operators and realize multidimension evaluation for DL operators from different DL libraries.

DiFuzzRTL: Differential Fuzz Testing to Find CPU Bug (S&P 2021)

Abstract: DifuzzRTL is a differential fuzz testing approach for CPU verification. We introduce new coverage metric, register-coverage, which comprehensively captures the states of an RTL design and correctly guides the input generation. DifuzzRTL automatically instruments register-coverage, randomly generates and mutates instructions defined in ISA, then cross-check against an ISA simulator to detect bugs.

DPIFuzz: A Differential Fuzzing Framework to Detect DPI Elusion Strategies for QUIC (ACSAC 2020)

Abstract: QUIC is an emerging transport protocol that has the potential to replace TCP in the near future. As such, QUIC will become an important target for Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Reliable DPI is essential, e.g., for corporate environments, to monitor traffic entering and leaving their networks. However, elusion strategies threaten the validity of DPI systems, as they allow attackers to carefully design traffic to fool and thus evade on-path DPI systems. While such elusion strategies for TCP are well documented, it is unclear if attackers will be able to elude QUIC-based DPI systems. In this paper, we systematically explore elusion methodologies for QUIC. To this end, we present DPIFuzz: a differential fuzzing framework which can automatically detect strategies to elude stateful DPI systems for QUIC. We use DPIFuzz to generate and mutate QUIC streams in order to compare (and find differences in) the server-side interpretations of five popular open-source QUIC implementations. We show that DPIFuzz successfully reveals DPI elusion strategies, such as using packets with duplicate packet numbers or exploiting the diverging handling of overlapping stream offsets by QUIC implementations. DPIFuzz additionally finds four security-critical vulnerabilities in these QUIC implementations.

HyDiff: Hybrid Differential Software Analysis (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Detecting regression bugs in software evolution, analyzing side-channels in programs and evaluating robustness in deep neural networks (DNNs) can all be seen as instances of differential software analysis, where the goal is to generate diverging executions of program paths. Two executions are said to be diverging if the observable program behavior differs, e.g., in terms of program output, execution time, or (DNN) classification. The key challenge of differential software analysis is to simultaneously reason about multiple program paths, often across program variants.

This paper presents HyDiff, the first hybrid approach for differential software analysis. HyDiff integrates and extends two very successful testing techniques: Feedback-directed greybox fuzzing for efficient program testing and shadow symbolic execution for systematic program exploration. HyDiff extends greybox fuzzing with divergence-driven feedback based on novel cost metrics that take into account the control flow graph of the program. Furthermore HyDiff extends shadow symbolic execution by applying four-way forking in a systematic exploration and still having the ability to incorporate concrete inputs in the analysis. HyDiff applies divergence revealing heuristics based on resource consumption and control-flow information to efficiently guide the symbolic exploration, which allows its efficient usage beyond regression testing applications. We introduce differential metrics such as output, decision and cost difference, as well as patch distance, to assist the fuzzing and symbolic execution components in maximizing the execution divergence.

We implemented our approach on top of the fuzzer AFL and the symbolic execution framework Symbolic PathFinder. We illustrate HyDiff on regression and side-channel analysis for Java bytecode programs, and further show how to use HyDiff for robustness analysis of neural networks.

DifFuzz: Differential Fuzzing for Side-Channel Analysis (ICSE 2019)

Abstract: Side-channel attacks allow an adversary to uncover secret program data by observing the behavior of a program with respect to a resource, such as execution time, consumed memory or response size. Side-channel vulnerabilities are difficult to reason about as they involve analyzing the correlations between resource usage over multiple program paths. We present DifFuzz, a fuzzing-based approach for detecting side-channel vulnerabilities related to time and space. DifFuzz automatically detects these vulnerabilities by analyzing two versions of the program and using resource-guided heuristics to find inputs that maximize the difference in resource consumption between secret-dependent paths. The methodology of DifFuzz is general and can be applied to programs written in any language. For this paper, we present an implementation that targets analysis of Java programs, and uses and extends the Kelinci and AFL fuzzers. We evaluate DifFuzz on a large number of Java programs and demonstrate that it can reveal unknown side-channel vulnerabilities in popular applications. We also show that DifFuzz compares favorably against Blazer and Themis, two state-of-the-art analysis tools for finding side-channels in Java programs.

Deep Differential Testing of JVM Implementations (ICSE 2019)

Abstract: The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is the cornerstone of the widely-used Java platform. Thus, it is critical to ensure the reliability and robustness of popular JVM implementations. However, little research exists on validating production JVMs. One notable effort is classfuzz, which mutates Java bytecode syntactically to stress-test different JVMs. It is shown that classfuzz mainly produces illegal bytecode files and uncovers defects in JVMs’ startup processes. It remains a challenge to effectively test JVMs’ bytecode verifiers and execution engines to expose deeper bugs.

This paper tackles this challenge by introducing classming, a novel, effective approach to performing deep, differential JVM testing. The key of classming is a technique, live bytecode mutation, to generate, from a seed bytecode file f, likely valid, executable (live) bytecode files: (1) capture the seed f’s live bytecode, the sequence of its executed bytecode instructions; (2) repeatedly manipulate the control- and data-flow in f’s live bytecode to generate semantically different mutants; and (3) selectively accept the generated mutants to steer the mutation process toward live, diverse mutants. The generated mutants are then employed to differentially test JVMs.

We have evaluated classming on mainstream JVM implementations, including OpenJDK’s HotSpot and IBM’s J9, by mutating the DaCapo benchmarks. Our results show that classming is very effective in uncovering deep JVM differences. More than 1,800 of the generated classes exposed JVM differences, and more than 30 triggered JVM crashes. We analyzed and reported the JVM runtime differences and crashes, of which 14 have already been confirmed/fixed, including a highly critical security vulnerability in J9 that allowed untrusted code to disable the security manager and elevate its privileges (CVE-2017-1376).

Hunting for bugs in code coverage tools via randomized differential testing (ICSE 2019)

Abstract: Reliable code coverage tools are critically important as it is heavily used to facilitate many quality assurance activities, such as software testing, fuzzing, and debugging. However, little attention has been devoted to assessing the reliability of code coverage tools. In this study, we propose a randomized differential testing approach to hunting for bugs in the most widely used C code coverage tools. Specifically, by generating random input programs, our approach seeks for inconsistencies in code coverage reports produced by different code coverage tools, and then identifies inconsistencies as potential code coverage bugs. To effectively report code coverage bugs, we addressed three specific challenges: (1) How to filter out duplicate test programs as many of them triggering the same bugs in code coverage tools; (2) how to automatically reduce large test programs to much smaller ones that have the same properties; and (3) how to determine which code coverage tools have bugs? The extensive evaluations validate the effectiveness of our approach, resulting in 42 and 28 confirmed/fixed bugs for gcov and llvm-cov, respectively. This case study indicates that code coverage tools are not as reliable as it might have been envisaged. It not only demonstrates the effectiveness of our approach, but also highlights the need to continue improving the reliability of code coverage tools. This work opens up a new direction in code coverage validation which calls for more attention in this area.

Different is Good: Detecting the Use of Uninitialized Variables through Differential Replay (CCS 2019)

Abstract: The use of uninitialized variables is a common issue. It could cause kernel information leak, which defeats the widely deployed security defense, i.e., kernel address space layout randomization (KASLR). Though a recent system called Bochspwn Reloaded reported multiple memory leaks in Windows kernels, how to effectively detect this issue is still largely behind.

In this paper, we propose a new technique, i.e., differential replay, that could effectively detect the use of uninitialized variables. Specifically, it records and replays a program’s execution in multiple instances. One instance is with the vanilla memory, the other one changes (or poisons) values of variables allocated from the stack and the heap. Then it compares program states to find references to uninitialized variables. The idea is that if a variable is properly initialized, it will overwrite the poisoned value and program states in two running instances should be the same. After detecting the differences, our system leverages the symbolic taint analysis to further identify the location where the variable was allocated. This helps us to identify the root cause and facilitate the development of real exploits. We have implemented a prototype called TimePlayer. After applying it to both Windows 7 and Windows 10 kernels (x86/x64), it successfully identified 34 new issues and another 85 ones that had been patched (some of them were publicly unknown.) Among 34 new issues, 17 of them have been confirmed as zero-day vulnerabilities by Microsoft.

Differential Program Analysis with Fuzzing and Symbolic Execution (ASE 2018)

Abstract: Differential program analysis means to identify the behavioral divergences in one or multiple programs, and it can be classified into two categories: identify the behavioral divergences (1) between two program versions for the same input (aka regression analysis), and (2) for the same program with two different inputs (e.g, side-channel analysis). Most of the existent approaches for both subproblems try to solve it with single techniques, which suffer from its weaknesses like scalability issues or imprecision. This research proposes to combine two very strong techniques, namely fuzzing and symbolic execution to tackle these problems and provide scalable solutions for real-world applications. The proposed approaches will be implemented on top of state-of-the-art tools like AFL and Symbolic PathFinder to evaluate them against existent work.

NEZHA: Efficient Domain-Independent Differential Testing (S&P 2017)

Abstract: Differential testing uses similar programs as cross-referencing oracles to find semantic bugs that do not exhibit explicit erroneous behaviors like crashes or assertion failures. Unfortunately, existing differential testing tools are domain-specific and inefficient, requiring large numbers of test inputs to find a single bug. In this paper, we address these issues by designing and implementing NEZHA, an efficient input-format-agnostic differential testing framework. The key insight behind NEZHA’s design is that current tools generate inputs by simply borrowing techniques designed for finding crash or memory corruption bugs in individual programs (e.g., maximizing code coverage). By contrast, NEZHA exploits the behavioral asymmetries between multiple test programs to focus on inputs that are more likely to trigger semantic bugs. We introduce the notion of δ-diversity, which summarizes the observed asymmetries between the behaviors of multiple test applications. Based on δ-diversity, we design two efficient domain-independent input generation mechanisms for differential testing, one gray-box and one black-box. We demonstrate that both of these input generation schemes are significantly more efficient than existing tools at finding semantic bugs in real-world, complex software.

Coverage-Directed Differential Testing of JVM Implementations (PLDI 2016)

Java virtual machine (JVM) is a core technology, whose reliability is critical. Testing JVM implementations requires painstaking effort in designing test classfiles (*.class) along with their test oracles. An alternative is to employ binary fuzzing to differentially test JVMs by blindly mutating seeding classfiles and executing the resulting mutants on different JVMs for revealing inconsistent behaviors. However, this blind approach is not cost effective in practice because (1) most of the mutants are invalid and redundant, and (2) the discovered JVM discrepancies, if any, mostly only concern compatibility issues, rather than actual defects. This paper tackles this challenge by introducing classfuzz, a coverage-directed fuzzing approach that focuses on representative classfiles for differential JVM testing. Our core insight is to (1) mutate seeding classfiles using a set of predefined mutation operators and employ Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling to guide mutator selection, and (2) execute the mutants on a reference JVM implementation and use coverage uniqueness as a discipline for accepting representative ones. The accepted classfiles are used as inputs to differentially test JVMs and find defects. We have implemented classfuzz and conducted an extensive evaluation of it against existing fuzz testing algorithms. Our evaluation results show that classfuzz can enhance the ratio of discrepancy-triggering classfiles from 1.7% to 11.9%. We have also reported 62 defect-indicative discrepancies, along with the test classfiles, to JVM developers. A number of our reported issues have already been confirmed as JVM defects, and some even match recent clarifications and changes to the JVM specification, Java SE 8 Edition.

Evaluate Fuzzing

FuzzBench: An Open Fuzzer Benchmarking Platform and Service (FSE 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a key tool used to reduce bugs in production software. At Google, fuzzing has uncovered tens of thousands of bugs. Fuzzing is also a popular subject of academic research. In 2020 alone, over 120 papers were published on the topic of improving, developing, and evaluating fuzzers and fuzzing techniques. Yet, proper evaluation of fuzzing techniques remains elusive. The community has struggled to converge on methodology and standard tools for fuzzer evaluation.

To address this problem, we introduce FuzzBench as an opensource turnkey platform and free service for evaluating fuzzers. It aims to be easy to use, fast, reliable, and provides reproducible experiments. Since its release in March 2020, FuzzBench has been widely used both in industry and academia, carrying out more than 150 experiments for external users. It has been used by several published and in-the-work papers from academic groups, and has had real impact on the most widely used fuzzing tools in industry. The presented case studies suggest that FuzzBench is on its way to becoming a standard fuzzer benchmarking platform.

An Empirical Study of OSS-Fuzz Bugs (MSR 2021)

Abstract: Continuous fuzzing is an increasingly popular technique for automated quality and security assurance. Google maintains OSS-Fuzz: a continuous fuzzing service for open source software. We conduct the first empirical study of OSS-Fuzz, analyzing 23,907 bugs found in 316 projects. We examine the characteristics of fuzzer-found faults, the lifecycles of such faults, and the evolution of fuzzing campaigns over time. We find that OSS-Fuzz is often effective at quickly finding bugs, and developers are often quick to patch them. However, flaky bugs, timeouts, and out of memory errors are problematic, people rarely file CVEs for security vulnerabilities, and fuzzing campaigns often exhibit punctuated equilibria, where developers might be surprised by large spikes in bugs found. Our findings have implications on future fuzzing research and practice.

Industrial Oriented Evaluation of Fuzzing Techniques (ICST 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a promising method for discovering vulnerabilities. Recently, various techniques are developed to improve the efficiency of fuzzing, and impressive gains are observed in evaluation results. However, evaluation is complex, as many factors affect the results, for example, test suites, baseline and metrics. Even more, most experiment setups are lab-oriented, lacking industrial settings such as large code-base and parallel runs. The correlation between the academic evaluation results and the bug-finding ability in real industrial settings has not been sufficiently studied.

In this paper, we test representative fuzzing techniques to reveal their efficiency in industrial settings. First, we apply typical fuzzers on academic widely used small projects from LAVAM suite. We also apply the same fuzzers on large practical projects from Google’s fuzzer-test-suite, which is rarely used in academic settings. Both experiments are performed in both single and parallel run. By analyzing the results, we found that most optimizations working well on LAVA-M suite fail to achieve satisfying results on Google’s fuzzer-test-suite (e.g. compared to AFL, QSYM detects 82x more synthesized bugs in LAVA-M, but only detects 26% real bugs in Google’s fuzzer-test-suite), and the original AFL even outperforms most academic optimization variants in industry widely used parallel runs (e.g. AFL covers 13% more paths than AFLFast). Then, we summarize common pitfalls of those optimizations, analyze the corresponding root causes, and propose potential directions such as orchestrations and synchronization to overcome the problems. For example, when running in parallel on those large practical projects, the proposed horizontal orchestration could cover 36%-82% more paths, and discover 46%-150% more unique crashes or bugs, compared to fuzzers such as AFL, FairFuzz and QSYM.

UNIFUZZ: A Holistic and Pragmatic Metrics-Driven Platform for Evaluating Fuzzers (USENIX Security2021)

Abstract: A flurry of fuzzing tools (fuzzers) have been proposed in the literature, aiming at detecting software vulnerabilities effectively and efficiently. To date, it is however still challenging to compare fuzzers due to the inconsistency of the benchmarks, performance metrics, and/or environments for evaluation, which buries the useful insights and thus impedes the discovery of promising fuzzing primitives. In this paper, we design and develop UNIFUZZ, an open-source and metrics-driven platform for assessing fuzzers in a comprehensive and quantitative manner. Specifically, UNIFUZZ to date has incorporated 35 usable fuzzers, a benchmark of 20 real-world programs, and six categories of performance metrics. We first systematically study the usability of existing fuzzers, find and fix a number of flaws, and integrate them into UNIFUZZ. Based on the study, we propose a collection of pragmatic performance metrics to evaluate fuzzers from six complementary perspectives. Using UNIFUZZ, we conduct in-depth evaluations of several prominent fuzzers including AFL [1], AFLFast [2], Angora [3], Honggfuzz [4], MOPT [5], QSYM [6], T-Fuzz [7] and VUzzer64 [8]. We find that none of them outperforms the others across all the target programs, and that using a single metric to assess the performance of a fuzzer may lead to unilateral conclusions, which demonstrates the significance of comprehensive metrics. Moreover, we identify and investigate previously overlooked factors that may significantly affect a fuzzer’s performance, including instrumentation methods and crash analysis tools. Our empirical results show that they are critical to the evaluation of a fuzzer. We hope that our findings can shed light on reliable fuzzing evaluation, so that we can discover promising fuzzing primitives to effectively facilitate fuzzer designs in the future.

A Quantitative Comparison of Covera (AST 2020)

Abstract: In recent years, many tools have been developed for fuzz testing that generates and executes test cases repeatedly. However, many studies use different fuzzing targets and evaluation criteria and then it is difficult to compare the performance of the existing tools for fuzz testing. Therefore, we prepared a unified collection of fuzzing targets and then compared 8 fuzzers with the benchmark. In comparison, we compared the fuzzers based on the number of execution paths and branch coverage. The result shows that the number of execution paths is significantly different between the fuzzers. On the other hand, the statistical difference is not confirmed between the branch converges of the fuzzers.

Fuzzing: On the Exponential Cost of Vulnerability Discovery (FSE 2020)

Abstract: We present counterintuitive results for the scalability of fuzzing. Given the same non-deterministic fuzzer, finding the same bugs linearly faster requires linearly more machines. Yet, finding linearly more bugs in the same time requires exponentially more machines. Similarly, with exponentially more machines, we can cover the same code exponentially faster, but uncovered code only linearly faster. In other words, re-discovering the same vulnerabilities (or achieving the same coverage) is cheap but finding new vulnerabilities (or achieving more coverage) is expensive. This holds even under the simplifying assumption of no parallelization overhead.

We derive these observations from over four CPU years worth of fuzzing campaigns involving almost three hundred open source programs, two state-of-the-art greybox fuzzers, four measures of code coverage, and two measures of vulnerability discovery. We provide a probabilistic analysis and conduct simulation experiments to explain this phenomenon.

A Feature-Oriented Corpus for understanding, Evaluating and Improving Fuzz Testing (ASIACCS 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a promising technique for detecting security vulnerabilities. Newly developed fuzzers are typically evaluated in terms of the number of bugs found on vulnerable programs/binaries. However,existing corpora usually do not capture the features that prevent fuzzers from finding bugs, leading to ambiguous conclusions on the pros and cons of the fuzzers evaluated. A typical example is that Driller detects more bugs than AFL, but its evaluation cannot establish if the advancement of Driller stems from the concolic execution or not, since, for example, its ability in resolving a dataset`s magic values is unclear. In this paper, we propose to address the above problem by generating corpora based on search-hampering features. As a proof-of-concept, we have designed FEData, a prototype corpus that currently focuses on four search-hampering features to generate vulnerable programs for fuzz testing. Unlike existing corpora that can only answer “how”, FEData can also further answer “why” by exposing (or understanding) the reasons for the identified weaknesses in a fuzzer. The “why” information serves as the key to the improvement of fuzzers.

Be Sensitive and Collaborative: Analyzing Impact of Coverage Metrics in Greybox Fuzzing (RAID 2019)

Abstract: Coverage-guided greybox fuzzing has become one of the most common techniques for finding software bugs. Coverage metric, which decides how a fuzzer selects new seeds, is an essential parameter of fuzzing and can significantly affect the results. While there are many existing works on the effectiveness of different coverage metrics on software testing, little is known about how different coverage metrics could actually affect the fuzzing results in practice. More importantly, it is unclear whether there exists one coverage metric that is superior to all the other metrics. In this paper, we report the first systematic study on the impact of different coverage metrics in fuzzing. To this end, we formally define and discuss the concept of sensitivity, which can be used to theoretically compare different coverage metrics. We then present several coverage metrics with their variants. We conduct a study on these metrics with the DARPA CGC dataset, the LAVA-M dataset, and a set of real-world applications (a total of 221 binaries). We find that because each fuzzing instance has limited resources (time and computation power), (1) each metric has its unique merit in terms of flipping certain types of branches (thus vulnerability finding) and (2) there is no grand slam coverage metric that defeats all the others. We also explore combining different coverage metrics through cross-seeding, and the result is very encouraging: this pure fuzzing based approach can crash at least the same numbers of binaries in the CGC dataset as a previous approach (Driller) that combines fuzzing and concolic execution. At the same time, our approach uses fewer computing resources.

Study and Comparison of General Purpose Fuzzers

Abstract: Fuzz testing is a widely used technique for the detection of vulnerabilities whose popularity has led to the development of various tools that do fuzz testing. General-purpose fuzzers work in all domains while some other fuzzers are targeted towards some speci c domain. Evaluation of these tools is not an easy task since different fuzzing tools excel in di erent domains. In this paper, we evaluate 3 such general-purpose fuzzing tools namely libFuzzer, American Fuzzy Lop(AFL) and honggfuzz on 2 metrics, i.e. their bug finding capability and their code coverage. We use the google fuzzer-test-suite which has 24 applications spanning several domains. libFuzzer performs best out of the three in finding memory leaks and out-of-memory related bugs but for other kinds of bugs, all three perform at par. honggfuzz seems to be the best in terms of coverage, though libFuzzer is not far behind, which we believe is because of our runs being of short duration.

Evaluating Fuzz Testing (CCS 2018)

Abstract: Fuzz testing has enjoyed great success at discovering security critical bugs in real software. Recently, researchers have devoted significant effort to devising new fuzzing techniques, strategies, and algorithms. Such new ideas are primarily evaluated experimentally so an important question is: What experimental setup is needed to produce trustworthy results? We surveyed the recent research literature and assessed the experimental evaluations carried out by 32 fuzzing papers. We found problems in every evaluation we considered. We then performed our own extensive experimental evaluation using an existing fuzzer. Our results showed that the general problems we found in existing experimental evaluations can indeed translate to actual wrong or misleading assessments. We conclude with some guidelines that we hope will help improve experimental evaluations of fuzz testing algorithms, making reported results more robust.

Instrumentation

RIFF: Reduced Instruction Footprint for Coverage-Guided Fuzzing (USENIX ATC 2021)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzzers use program coverage measurements to explore different program paths efficiently. The coverage pipeline consists of runtime collection and post-execution processing procedures. First, the target program executes instrumentation code to collect coverage information. Then the fuzzer performs an expensive analysis on the collected data, yet most program executions lead to no increases in coverage. Inefficient implementations of these steps significantly reduce the fuzzer’s overall throughput.

In this paper, we propose RIFF, a highly efficient program coverage measurement mechanism to reduce fuzzing overhead. For the target program, RIFF moves computations originally done at runtime to instrumentation-time through static program analysis, thus reducing instrumentation code to a bare minimum. For the fuzzer, RIFF processes coverage with different levels of granularity and utilizes vector instructions to improve throughput.

We implement RIFF in state-of-the-art fuzzers such as AFL and MOpt and evaluate its performance on real-world programs in Google’s FuzzBench and fuzzer-test-suite. The results show that RIFF improves coverage measurement efficiency of fuzzers by 23× and 6× during runtime collection and post-execution processing, respectively. As a result, the fuzzers complete 147% more executions, and use only 6.53 hours to reach the 24-hour coverage of baseline fuzzers on average.

Hashing Fuzzing: Introducing Input Diversity to Improve Crash Detection (TSE 2021)

Abstract: The utility of a test set of program inputs is strongly influenced by its diversity and its size. Syntax coverage has become a standard proxy for diversity. Although more sophisticated measures exist, such as proximity of a sample to a uniform distribution, methods to use them tend to be type dependent. We use r-wise hash functions to create a novel, semantics preserving, testability transformation for C programs that we call HashFuzz. Use of HashFuzz improves the diversity of test sets produced by instrumentation-based fuzzers. We evaluate the effect of the HashFuzz transformation on eight programs from the Google Fuzzer Test Suite using four state-of-the-art fuzzers that have been widely used in previous research. We demonstrate pronounced improvements in the performance of the test sets for the transformed programs across all the fuzzers that we used. These include strong improvements in diversity in every case, maintenance or small improvement in branch coverage – up to 4.8% improvement in the best case, and significant improvement in unique crash detection numbers – between 28% to 97% increases compared to test sets for untransformed programs.

RetroWrite: Statically Instrumenting COTS Binaries for Fuzzing and Sanitization (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Analyzing the security of closed source binaries is currently impractical for end-users, or even developers who rely on third-party libraries. Such analysis relies on automatic vulnerability discovery techniques, most notably fuzzing with sanitizers enabled. The current state of the art for applying fuzzing or sanitization to binaries is a dynamic binary translation, which has a prohibitive performance overhead. The alternate technique, static binary rewriting, cannot fully recover symbolization information and hence has difficulty modifying binaries to track code coverage for fuzzing or to add security checks for sanitizers.

The ideal solution for binary security analysis would be a static rewriter that can intelligently add the required instrumentation as if it were inserted at compile time. Such instrumentation requires an analysis to statically disambiguate between references and scalars, a problem known to be undecidable in the general case. We show that recovering this information is possible in practice for the most common class of software and libraries: 64-bit, position-independent code. Based on this observation, we develop RetroWrite, binary-rewriting instrumentation to support American Fuzzy Lop (AFL) and Address Sanitizer (ASan), and show that it can achieve compiler-level performance while retaining precision. Binaries rewritten for coverage guided fuzzing using RetroWrite are identical in performance to compiler-instrumented binaries and outperform the default QEMU-based instrumentation by 4.5x while triggering more bugs. Our implementation of binary-only Address Sanitizer is 3x faster than Valgrind’s memcheck, the state-of-the-art binary-only memory checker, and detects 80% more bugs in our evaluation.

INSTRCR: Lightweight instrumentation optimization based on coverage-guided fuzz testing (CCET 2019)

Abstract: In Fuzzing facing binary coverage, the main role of instrumentation is feedback code coverage (in the case of Fuzz for binary, instrumentation can provide coverage information, which plays an important role in guiding the operation of seeds in Fuzz) . The current instrumentation optimization technique mainly relies on the control flow graph (CFG) to select key basic blocks at the basic block level, but the accuracy of this method is not high enough. Considering that the actual path in the actual operation of the binary may be different from the CFG generated in advance, this paper is based on the indirect jump that cannot be accurately analyzed in the CFG, and some of the basic blocks that can be optimized for high-frequency interpolation. According to the algorithm proposed in this paper, The combination of static analysis and dynamic analysis is used to continuously adjust and select key basic block nodes for instrumentation. It is verified by experiments that this kind of instrumentation method can effectively improve the coverage rate and reduce the overhead, and provide effective guidance for Fuzzing, which can effectively reduce the Fuzzer’s false negatives.

Full-speed Fuzzing: Reducing Fuzzing Overhead through Coverage-guided Tracing (S&P 2019)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzzing is one of the most successful approaches for discovering software bugs and security vulnerabilities. Of its three main components: (1) test case generation, (2) code coverage tracing, and (3) crash triage, code coverage tracing is a dominant source of overhead. Coverage-guided fuzzers trace every test case’s code coverage through either static or dynamic binary instrumentation, or more recently, using hardware support. Unfortunately, tracing all test cases incurs significant performance penalties–even when the overwhelming majority of test cases and their coverage information are discarded because they do not increase code coverage. To eliminate needless tracing by coverage-guided fuzzers, we introduce the notion of coverage-guided tracing. Coverage-guided tracing leverages two observations: (1) only a fraction of generated test cases increase coverage, and thus require tracing; and (2) coverage-increasing test cases become less frequent over time. Coverage-guided tracing encodes the current frontier of coverage in the target binary so that it self-reports when a test case produces new coverage–without tracing. This acts as a filter for tracing; restricting the expense of tracing to only coverage-increasing test cases. Thus, coverage-guided tracing trades increased time handling coverage-increasing test cases for decreased time handling non-coverage-increasing test cases. To show the potential of coverage-guided tracing, we create an implementation based on the static binary instrumentor Dyninst called UnTracer. We evaluate UnTracer using eight real-world binaries commonly used by the fuzzing community. Experiments show that after only an hour of fuzzing, UnTracer’s average overhead is below 1%, and after 24-hours of fuzzing, UnTracer approaches 0% overhead, while tracing every test case with popular white- and black-box-binary tracers AFL-Clang, AFL-QEMU, and AFL-Dyninst incurs overheads of 36%, 612%, and 518%, respectively. We further integrate UnTracer with the state-of-the-art hybrid fuzzer QSYM and show that in 24-hours of fuzzing, QSYM-UnTracer executes 79% and 616% more test cases than QSYM-Clang and QSYM-QEMU, respectively.

INSTRIM Lightweight Instrumentation for Coverage-guided Fuzzing (NDSS 2018 workshop)

Abstract: Empowered by instrumentation, coverage-guided fuzzing monitors the program execution path taken by an input, and prioritizes inputs based on their contribution to code coverage. Although instrumenting every basic block ensures full visibility, it slows down the fuzzer and thus the speed of vulnerability discovery. This paper shows that thanks to common program structures (e.g., directed acyclic subgraphs and simple loops) and compiler optimization (e.g., knowledge of incoming edges), it is possible to accurately reconstruct coverage information by instrumenting only a small fraction of basic blocks. Specifically, we formulate the problem as a path differentiation problem on the control flow graph, and propose an efficient algorithm to select basic blocks that need to be instrumented so that different execution paths remain differentiable. We extend AFL to support such CFG-aware instrumentation. Our experiment results confirm that, compared with full instrumentation, our CFG-aware instrumentation only needs to instrument about 20% of basic blocks while offering 1.04–1.78x speedup during fuzzing. Finally, we highlight several technical challenges and promising research directions to further improve instrumentation for fuzzing.

IoT or protocols fuzzing

ProFuzzBench - A Benchmark for Stateful Protocol Fuzzing (ISSTA 2021)

Abstract: We present a new benchmark (ProFuzzBench) for stateful fuzzing of network protocols. The benchmark includes a suite of representative open-source network servers for popular protocols, and tools to automate experimentation. We discuss challenges and potential directions for future research based on this benchmark.

TCP-Fuzz: Detecting Memory and Semantic Bugs in TCP Stacks with Fuzzing (USENIX ATC 2021)

Abstract: TCP stacks provide reliable data transmission in network, and thus they should be correctly implemented and well tested to ensure reliability and security. However, testing TCP stacks is difficult. First, a TCP stack accepts packets and system calls that have dependencies between each other, and thus generating effective test cases is challenging. Second, a TCP stack has various complex state transitions, but existing testing approaches target covering states instead of covering state transitions, and thus their testing coverage is limited. Finally, our study of TCP stack commits shows that 87% of bug-fixing commits are related to semantic bugs (such as RFC violations), but existing bug sanitizers can detect only memory bugs not semantic bugs.

In this paper, we design a novel fuzzing framework named TCP-Fuzz, to effectively test TCP stacks and detect bugs. TCP-Fuzz consists of three key techniques: (1) a dependency-based strategy that considers dependencies between packets and system calls, to generate effective test cases; (2) a transition-guided fuzzing approach that uses a new coverage metric named branch transition as program feedback, to improve the coverage of state transitions; (3) a differential checker that compares the outputs of multiple TCP stacks for the same inputs, to detect semantic bugs. We have evaluated TCP-Fuzz on five widely-used TCP stacks (TLDK, F-Stack, mTCP, FreeBSD TCP and Linux TCP), and find 56 real bugs (including 8 memory bugs and 48 semantic bugs). 40 of these bugs have been confirmed by related developers.

ICPFuzzer: proprietary communication protocol fuzzing by using machine learning and feedback strategies (Cybersecurity 2021)

Abstract: The fuzzing test is able to discover various vulnerabilities and has more chances to hit the zero-day targets. And ICS(Industrial control system) is currently facing huge security threats and requires security standards, like ISO 62443, to ensure the quality of the device. However, some industrial proprietary communication protocols can be customized and have complicated structures, the fuzzing system cannot quickly generate test data that adapt to various protocols. It also struggles to define the mutation field without having prior knowledge of the protocols. Therefore, we propose a fuzzing system named ICPFuzzer that uses LSTM(Long short-term memory) to learn the features of a protocol and generates mutated test data automatically. We also use the responses of testing and adjust the weight strategies to further test the device under testing (DUT) to find more data that cause unusual connection status. We verified the effectiveness of the approach by comparing with the open-source and commercial fuzzers. Furthermore, in a real case, we experimented with the DLMS/COSEM for a smart meter and found that the test data can cause a unusual response. In summary, ICPFuzzer is a black-box fuzzing system that can automatically execute the testing process and reveal vulnerabilities that interrupt and crash industrial control communication. Not only improves the quality of ICS but also improves safety.

Fuzzing With Optimized Grammar-Aware Mutation Strategies (Access 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a widely used technique to discover vulnerabilities in software. However, for programs requiring highly structured inputs, the byte-based mutation strategies in existing fuzzers have difficulties in generating valid inputs. To resolve this challenge, Grammar-Based Fuzzing (GBF) utilizes existing grammar specifications to generate new inputs. Some GBFs perform mutation based on Abstract Syntax Trees (ASTs), which can generate inputs conforming to grammars. However, the existing GBFs neglect using feedback to optimize mutation strategies, and blindly generate inputs without considering the effectiveness of those inputs. In this paper, we use the power schedule and the subtree pool to optimize mutation strategies. Specifically, we first translate input files into ASTs, and extract subtrees from ASTs into a subtree pool. Then, we optimize the power schedule on AST nodes based on a probabilistic model. That is, we adaptively determine the time budget for mutating an AST node. Finally, we replace AST nodes along with their subtrees using the ones we select from the subtree pool. We implement a fuzzing tool to demonstrate our strategies. The experiment results show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art methods in fuzzing efficiency.

FIRM-COV: High-Coverage Greybox Fuzzing for IoT Firmware via Optimized Process Emulation (Access 2021)

Abstract: With the growing prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT), related security threats have kept pace. The need to dynamically detect vulnerabilities in IoT devices cannot be overstated. In this work, we present FIRM-COV, the first high coverage-oriented greybox fuzzer for IoT firmware. FIRM-COV leverages newly optimized process emulation by targeting IoT programs and mining real-world vulnerabilities. FIRM-COV focuses on solving problems of IoT fuzzing based on empirical analyses, using the required structured input, the inaccuracy and instability of emulation, and the required high code coverage. By optimizing the existing emulation technique, FIRM-COV always maintains a stable state and achieves high accuracy when detecting vulnerabilities. We also implement a dictionary generation algorithm to provide structured input values and synergy scheduling to achieve high coverage and throughput. We compare FIRM-COV with other IoT fuzzing frameworks for eight real-world IoT devices. As a result, FIRM-COV achieves the highest coverage and throughput, finding the fastest and most 1-day vulnerabilities with almost no false-positives. It also found two 0-day vulnerabilities in real-world IoT devices within 24 h.

DIANE: Identifying Fuzzing Triggers in Apps to Generate Under-constrained Inputs for IoT Devices (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Internet of Things (IoT) devices have rooted themselves in the everyday life of billions of people. Thus, researchers have applied automated bug finding techniques to improve their overall security. However, due to the difficulties in extracting and emulating custom firmware, black-box fuzzing is often the only viable analysis option. Unfortunately, this solution mostly produces invalid inputs, which are quickly discarded by the targeted IoT device and do not penetrate its code. Another proposed approach is to leverage the companion app (i.e., the mobile app typically used to control an IoT device) to generate well-structured fuzzing inputs. Unfortunately, the existing solutions produce fuzzing inputs that are constrained by app-side validation code, thus significantly limiting the range of discovered vulnerabilities. In this paper, we propose a novel approach that overcomes these limitations. Our key observation is that there exist functions inside the companion app that can be used to generate optimal (i.e., valid yet under-constrained) fuzzing inputs. Such functions, which we call fuzzing triggers, are executed before any data-transforming functions (e.g., network serialization), but after the input validation code. Consequently, they generate inputs that are not constrained by app-side sanitization code, and, at the same time, are not discarded by the analyzed IoT device due to their invalid format. We design and develop Diane, a tool that combines static and dynamic analysis to find fuzzing triggers in Android companion apps, and then uses them to fuzz IoT devices automatically. We use Diane to analyze 11 popular IoT devices, and identify 11 bugs, 9 of which are zero days. Our results also show that without using fuzzing triggers, it is not possible to generate bug-triggering inputs for many devices.

Snipuzz: Black-box Fuzzing of IoT Firmware via Message Snippet Inference (CCS 2021)

Abstract: The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made people’s lives more convenient, but it has also raised many security concerns. Due to the difficulty of obtaining and emulating IoT firmware, the black-box fuzzing of IoT devices has become a viable option. However, existing black-box fuzzers cannot form effective mutation optimization mechanisms to guide their testing processes, mainly due to the lack of feedback. It is difficult or even impossible to apply existing grammar-based fuzzing strategies. Therefore, an efficient fuzzing approach with syntax inference is required in the IoT fuzzing domain. To address these critical problems, we propose a novel automatic black-box fuzzing for IoT firmware, termed Snipuzz. Snipuzz runs as a client communicating with the devices and infers message snippets for mutation based on the responses. Each snippet refers to a block of consecutive bytes that reflect the approximate code coverage in fuzzing. This mutation strategy based on message snippets considerably narrows down the search space to change the probing messages. We compared Snipuzz with four state-of-the-art IoT fuzzing approaches, i.e., IoTFuzzer, BooFuzz, Doona, and Nemesys. Snipuzz not only inherits the advantages of app-based fuzzing (e.g., IoTFuzzer, but also utilizes communication responses to perform efficient mutation. Furthermore, Snipuzz is lightweight as its execution does not rely on any prerequisite operations, such as reverse engineering of apps. We also evaluated Snipuzz on 20 popular real-world IoT devices. Our results show that Snipuzz could identify 5 zero-day vulnerabilities, and 3 of them could be exposed only by Snipuzz. All the newly discovered vulnerabilities have been confirmed by their vendors.

Learning-Based Fuzzing of IoT Message Brokers (ICST 2021)

Abstract: The number of devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) immensely grew in recent years. A frequent challenge in the assurance of the dependability of IoT systems is that components of the system appear as a black box. This paper presents a semi-automatic testing methodology for black-box systems that combines automata learning and fuzz testing. Our testing technique uses stateful fuzzing based on a model that is automatically inferred by automata learning. Applying this technique, we can simultaneously test multiple implementations for unexpected behavior and possible security vulnerabilities.We show the effectiveness of our learning-based fuzzing technique in a case study on the MQTT protocol. MQTT is a widely used publish/subscribe protocol in the IoT. Our case study reveals several inconsistencies between five different MQTT brokers. The found inconsistencies expose possible security vulnerabilities and violations of the MQTT specification.

RiverFuzzRL - an open-source tool to experiment with reinforcement learning for fuzzing (ICST 2021)

Abstract: Combining fuzzing techniques and reinforcement learning could be an important direction in software testing. However, there is a gap in support for experimentation in this field, as there are no open-source tools to let academia and industry to perform experiments easily. The purpose of this paper is to fill this gap by introducing a new framework, named RiverFuzzRL, on top of our already mature framework for AI-guided fuzzing, River. We provide out-of-the-box implementations for users to choose from or customize for their test target. The work presented here is performed on testing binaries and does not require access to the source code, but it can be easily adapted to other types of software testing as well. We also discuss the challenges faced, opportunities, and factors that are important for performance, as seen in the evaluation.

Vulnerability Detection in SIoT Applications: A Fuzzing Method on their Binaries (IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering 2020)

Abstract: SIoT enables devices to communicate with each other automatically, which is not reliable when applications in SIoT are vulnerable. To improve the security of SIoT, different techniques have been employed so far, mainly to detect vulnerabilities in SIoT applications. Among the detection techniques, fuzzing is one of the most effective ones that can significantly improve the security of SIoT applications. However, the existing fuzzing methods have three problems. First of all, the schemes to instrument target binaries cause high memory overhead because they instrument at all edges to obtain the coverage information. Moreover, they introduce a severe problem called edge collision, i.e., two different edges are deemed the same during fuzzing. Thirdly, none of the existing fuzzers conduct fuzzing using path coverage because path coverage has high memory overhead. In this paper, we propose BECFuzz to resolve the above three problems. BECFuzz instruments at specific edges, and conducts fuzzing based on both edge coverage and path coverage, which greatly improves its effectiveness. We implement our BECFuzz based on two typical fuzzers which are widely recognised as baselines, AFL and AFLFast, and run experiments on 18 real-world programs. The results demonstrate that our method suppresses the state-of-art fuzzers in performance.

Analysis of DTLS Implementations Using Protocol State Fuzzing (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Recent years have witnessed an increasing number of protocols relying on UDP. Compared to TCP, UDP offers performance advantages such as simplicity and lower latency. This has motivated its adoption in Voice over IP, tunneling technologies, IoT, and novel Web protocols. To protect sensitive data exchange in these scenarios, the DTLS protocol has been developed as a cryptographic variation of TLS. DTLS’s main challenge is to support the stateless and unreliable transport of UDP. This has forced protocol designers to make choices that affect the complexity of DTLS, and to incorporate features that need not be addressed in the numerous TLS analyses.

We present the first comprehensive analysis of DTLS implementations using protocol state fuzzing. To that end, we extend TLS-Attacker, an open source framework for analyzing TLS implementations, with support for DTLS tailored to the stateless and unreliable nature of the underlying UDP layer. We build a framework for applying protocol state fuzzing on DTLS servers, and use it to learn state machine models for thirteen DTLS implementations. Analysis of the learned state models reveals four serious security vulnerabilities, including a full client authentication bypass in the latest JSSE version, as well as several functional bugs and non-conformance issues. It also uncovers considerable differences between the models, confirming the complexity of DTLS state machines.

Frankenstein: Advanced Wireless Fuzzing to Exploit New Bluetooth Escalation Targets (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Wireless communication standards and implementations have a troubled history regarding security. Since most implementations and firmwares are closed-source, fuzzing remains one of the main methods to uncover Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities in deployed systems. Generic over-the-air fuzzing suffers from several shortcomings, such as constrained speed, limited repeatability, and restricted ability to debug. In this paper, we present Frankenstein, a fuzzing framework based on advanced firmware emulation, which addresses these shortcomings. Frankenstein brings firmware dumps “back to life”, and provides fuzzed input to the chip’s virtual modem. The speed-up of our new fuzzing method is sufficient to maintain interoperability with the attached operating system, hence triggering realistic full-stack behavior. We demonstrate the potential of Frankenstein by finding three zero-click vulnerabilities in the Broadcom and Cypress Bluetooth stack, which is used in most Apple devices, many Samsung smartphones, the Raspberry Pis, and many others. Given RCE on a Bluetooth chip, attackers may escalate their privileges beyond the chip’s boundary. We uncover a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth coexistence issue that crashes multiple operating system kernels and a design flaw in the Bluetooth 5.2 specification that allows link key extraction from the host. Turning off Bluetooth will not fully disable the chip, making it hard to defend against RCE attacks. Moreover, when testing our chip-based vulnerabilities on those devices, we find BlueFrag, a chip-independent Android RCE.

A deep convolution generative adversarial networks based fuzzing framework for industry control protocols

Abstract: A growing awareness is brought that the safety and security of industrial control systems cannot be dealt with in isolation, and the safety and security of industrial control protocols (ICPs) should be considered jointly. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) for the ICP is a common way to discover whether the ICP itself is designed and implemented with flaws and network security vulnerability. Traditional fuzzing methods promote the safety and security testing of ICPs, and many of them have practical applications. However, most traditional fuzzing methods rely heavily on the specification of ICPs, which makes the test process a costly, time-consuming, troublesome and boring task. And the task is hard to repeat if the specification does not exist. In this study, we propose a smart and automated protocol fuzzing methodology based on improved deep convolution generative adversarial network and give a series of performance metrics. An automated and intelligent fuzzing framework BLSTM-DCNNFuzz for application is designed. Several typical ICPs, including Modbus and EtherCAT, are applied to test the effectiveness and efficiency of our framework. Experiment results show that our methodology outperforms the existing ones like General Purpose Fuzzer and other deep learning based fuzzing methods in convenience, effectiveness, and efficiency.

ICS Protocol Fuzzing: Coverage Guided Packet Crack and Generation (DAC 2020)

Abstract: Industrial Control System (ICS) protocols play an essential role in building communications among system components. Recently, many severe vulnerabilities, such as Stuxnet and DragonFly, exposed in ICS protocols have affected a wide distribution of devices. Therefore, it is of vital importance to ensure their correctness. However, the vulnerability detection efficiency of traditional techniques such as fuzzing is challenged by the complexity and diversity of the protocols.

In this paper, we propose to equip the traditional protocol fuzzing with coverage-guided packet crack and generation. We collect the coverage information during testing procedure, save those valuable packets that trigger new path coverage and crack them into pieces, based on which, we can construct higher quality new packets for further testing. For evaluation, we build Peach* on top of Peach, which is one of the most widely used protocol fuzzers, and conduct experiments on several ICS protocols such as Modbus and DNP3. Results show that, compared with the original Peach, Peach* achieves the same code coverage and bug detection numbers at the speed of 1.2X-25X. It also gains final increase with 8.35%-36.84% more paths within 24 hours, and has exposed 9 previously unknown vulnerabilities.

AFLNET: A Greybox Fuzzer for Network Protocols (ICST 2020)

Abstract: Server fuzzing is difficult. Unlike simple command-line tools, servers feature a massive state space that can be traversed effectively only with well-defined sequences of input messages. Valid sequences are specified in a protocol. In this paper, we present AFLNET, the first grey-box fuzzer for protocol implementations. Unlike existing protocol fuzzers, AFLNET takes a mutational approach and uses state-feedback to guide the fuzzing process. AFLNET is seeded with a corpus of recorded message exchanges between the server and an actual client. No protocol specification or message grammars are required. AFLNET acts as a client and replays variations of the original sequence of messages sent to the server and retains those variations that were effective at increasing the coverage of the code or state space. To identify the server states that are exercised by a message sequence, AFLNET uses the server’s response codes. From this feedback, AFLNET identifies progressive regions in the state space, and systematically steers towards such regions. The case studies with AFLNET on two popular protocol implementations demonstrate a substantial performance boost over the state-of-the-art. AFLNET discovered two new CVEs that are classified as critical (CVSS score CRITICAL 9.8).

Finding Security Vulnerabilities in Network Protocol Implementations (Arxiv 2020)

Abstract: Implementations of network protocols are often prone to vulnerabilities caused by developers’ mistakes when accessing memory regions and dealing with arithmetic operations. Finding practical approaches for checking the security of network protocol implementations has proven to be a challenging problem. The main reason is that the protocol software state-space is too large to be explored. Here we propose a novel verification approach that combines fuzzing with symbolic execution to verify intricate properties in network protocol implementations. We use fuzzing for an initial exploration of the network protocol, while symbolic execution explores both the program paths and protocol states, which were uncovered by fuzzing. From this combination, we automatically generate high-coverage test input packets for a network protocol implementation.We surveyed various approaches based on fuzzing and symbolic execution to understand how these techniques can be effectively combined and then choose a suitable tool to develop further our model on top of it. In our preliminary evaluation, we used ESBMC, Map2Check, and KLEE as software verifiers and SPIKE as fuzzer to check their suitability to verify our network protocol implementations. Our experimental results show that ESBMC can be further developed within our verification framework called FuSeBMC, to efficiently and effectively detect intricate security vulnerabilities in network protocol implementations.

Smart seed selection-based effective black box fuzzing for IIoT protocol (2020)

Abstract: Connections of cyber-physical system (CPS) components are gradually increasing owing to the introduction of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT vulnerability analysis has become a major issue because complex skillful cyber-attacks on CPS systems exploit their zero-day vulnerabilities. However, current white box techniques for vulnerability analysis are difficult to use in real heterogeneous environments, where devices supplied by various manufacturers and diverse firmware versions are used. Therefore, we herein propose a novel protocol fuzzing test technique that can be applied in a heterogeneous environment. As seed configuration can significantly influence the test result in a black box test, we update the seed pool using test cases that travel different program paths compared to the seed. The input, output, and Delta times are used to determine if a new program area has been searched in the black box environment. We experimentally verified the effectiveness of the proposed.

Fw‐fuzz: A code coverage‐guided fuzzing framework for network protocols on firmware (2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an effective approach to detect software vulnerabilities utilizing changeable generated inputs. However, fuzzing the network protocol on the firmware of IoT devices is limited by inefficiency of test case generation, cross‐architecture instrumentation, and fault detection. In this article, we propose the Fw‐fuzz, a coverage‐guided and crossplatform framework for fuzzing network services running in the context of firmware on embedded architectures, which can generate more valuable test cases by introspecting program runtime information and using a genetic algorithm model. Specifically, we propose novel dynamic instrumentation in Fw‐fuzz to collect the running state of the firmware program. Then Fw‐fuzz adopts a genetic algorithm model to guide the generation of inputs with high code coverage. We fully implement the prototype system of Fw‐fuzz and conduct evaluations on network service programs of various architectures in MIPS, ARM, and PPC. By comparing with the protocol fuzzers Boofuzz and Peach in metrics of edge coverage, our prototype system achieves an average growth of 33.7% and 38.4%, respectively. We further verify six known vulnerabilities and discover 5 0‐day vulnerabilities with the Fw‐fuzz, which prove the validity and utility of our framework. The overhead of our system expressed as an additional 5% of memory growth.

Poster: Fuzzing IoT Firmware via Multi-stage Message Generation (CCS 2019)

Abstract: In this work, we present IoTHunter, the first grey-box fuzzer for fuzzing stateful protocols in IoT firmware. IoTHunter addresses the state scheduling problem based on a multi-stage message generation mechanism on runtime monitoring of IoT firmware. We evaluate IoTHunter with a set of real-world programs, and the result shows that IoTHunter outperforms black-box fuzzer boofuzz, which has a 2.2x, 2.0x, and 2.5x increase for function coverage, block coverage, and edge coverage, respectively. IoTHunter also found five new vulnerabilities in the firmware of home router Mikrotik, which have been reported to the vendor.

SeqFuzzer: An Industrial Protocol Fuzzing Framework in Deep Learning Perspective (ICST 2019)

Abstract: Industrial networks are the cornerstone of modern industrial control systems. Performing security checks of industrial communication processes help detect unknown risks and vulnerabilities. Fuzz testing is a widely used method for performing security checks that takes advantage of automation. However, there is a big challenge to carry out security checks on the industrial networks due to the increasing variety and complexity of industrial communication protocols. In this case, existing approaches usually take a long time to model the protocol for generating test cases, which is labor-intensive and timeconsuming. This becomes even worse when the target protocol is stateful. To help in addressing this problem, we employed a deep learning model to learn the structures of protocol frames and deal with the temporal features of stateful protocols. We propose a fuzzing framework named SeqFuzzer which automatically learns the protocol frame structures from communication traffic and generates fake but plausible messages as test cases. For proving the usability of our approach, we applied SeqFuzzer to widelyused Ethernet for Control Automation Technology (EtherCAT) devices and successfully detected several security vulnerabilities

SPFuzz: A Hierarchical Scheduling Framework for Stateful Network Protocol Fuzzing (IEEE Access 2019)

Abstract: In recent years, the fuzzing technology is widely used to detect the software vulnerabilities owing to the coverage improvement in the target program and the easiness of use. However, it is less efficient to fuzz the stateful protocols due to the difficulties like maintaining states and dependencies of messages. To address these challenges, we present SPFuzz, a framework for building flexible, coverage guided stateful protocol fuzzing. We define a language in SPFuzz to describe the protocol specifications, protocol states transitions and dependencies for generating valuable test cases, maintaining correct messages in session states and handling protocol dependencies by updating message data in time. The SPFuzz adopts a three-level mutation strategy, namely head, content, and sequence mutation strategy to drive the fuzzing process to cover more paths, in conjunction with the method to randomly assign weights to messages and strategies. We use the following metrics to evaluate the performance of SPFuzz and other frameworks upon three protocol implementations, i.e., Proftpd, Oftpd, and OpenSSL, which are three-granularity coverages specifically function, basic block, and edge. In experiments, the SPFuzz framework outperforms the existing stateful protocol fuzzing tool Boofuzz by an average of 69.12% in three granularities coverage tests. This demonstrates that the SPFuzz has the ability to explore more and deeper paths of the target program. We further triggered CVE-2015-0291 in OpenSSL 1.0.2 with the SPFuzz, which proves the validity and utility of our framework.

HFuzz: Towards automatic fuzzing testing of NB-IoT core network protocols implementations (FGCS 2019)

Abstract: Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-loT) is widely deployed in the cellular network of operators, yet implementations of its core network protocols are suffering from bugs. Due to the complexity of the frame structure of NB-IoT core network protocols, testing the protocols in this field is notoriously difficult. In this paper, we propose a novel fuzzing framework, named HFuzz, to generate a great many high-quality test inputs automatically. HFuzz is an automatic hierarchy-aware fuzzing framework and can allocate computing resources efficiently. We put forward the concept of Message Structure Tree to transform the seed file and generate mutated data of the tested protocols and optimize the resource allocation for each hierarchy of the transformed structure by a novel scheduling algorithm. Therefore HFuzz can get a balance between breadth and depth in finding new paths. Compared to traditional fuzzing tools, HFuzz can easily pass the early verification and induce a better coverage of the target implementations by taking full advantage of format information of NB-IoT core network protocols. Our framework applies to various protocols, and we evaluate the performance of HFuzz on GPRS Tunnelling Protocol version 2(GTPv2) in this paper and conduct experiments with two protocol implementations, Open Air Interface (OAI) and B*(a development system). The experimental results show HFuzz yields higher coverage than American Fuzzy Lop (AFL) and Peach, and we further find a real implementation bug in OAI.

FIRM-AFL: High-Throughput Greybox Fuzzing of IoT Firmware via Augmented Process Emulation (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: Cyber attacks against IoT devices are a severe threat. These attacks exploit software vulnerabilities in IoT firmware. Fuzzing is an effective software testing technique for vulnerability discovery. In this work, we present FIRM-AFL, the first high-throughput grey box fuzzer for IoT firmware. FIRMAFL addresses two fundamental problems in IoT fuzzing. First, it addresses compatibility issues by enabling fuzzing for POSIX-compatible firmware that can be emulated in a system emulator. Second, it addresses the performance bottleneck caused by system-mode emulation with a novel technique called augmented process emulation. By combining system mode emulation and user-mode emulation in a novel way, augmented process emulation provides high compatibility as system-mode emulation and high throughput as user-mode emulation. Our evaluation results show that (1) FIRM-AFL is fully functional and capable of finding real-world vulnerabilities in IoT programs; (2) the throughput of FIRM-AFL is on average 8.2 times higher than system-mode emulation based fuzzing; and (3) FIRM-AFL is able to find 1-day vulnerabilities much faster than system-mode emulation based fuzzing, and is able to find 0-day vulnerabilities.

Advancing Protocol Fuzzing for Industrial Automation and Control Systems (ICISSP 2018)

Abstract: Testing for security vulnerabilities is playing an important role in the changing domain of industrial automation and control systems. These systems are increasingly connected to each other via networking technology and are faced with new cyber threats. To improve the security properties of such systems, their robustness must be ensured. Security testing frameworks aim at enabling the assurance of robustness even at the time of development and can play a key role in bringing security into the industrial domain.

Fuzzing describes a technique to discover vulnerabilities in technical systems and is best known from its usage in IT security testing. It uses randomly altered data to provoke unexpected behaviour and can be used in combination with regular unit testing. Combined with the power of fuzzing, the effectiveness of security testing frameworks can be increased.

In this work, different fuzzing tools were evaluated for their properties and then compared with the requirements for an application in the industrial domain. As no fuzzer was fully satisfying these requirements, a new fuzzer, combining the strength of different others, was designed and implemented, and then evaluated. The evaluation includes a real-world application where multiple vulnerabilities in industrial automation components could be identified.

Exploring Effective Fuzzing Strategies to Analyze Communication Protocols (FEAST 2019)

Abstract: In recent years, coverage-based greybox fuzzing has become popular forvulnerability detection due to its simplicity and efficiency. However, it is less powerful when applied directly to protocol fuzzing due to the unique challenges involved in fuzzing communication protocols. In particular, the communication among multiple ends contains more than one packet, which are not necessarily dependent upon each other, i.e., fuzzing single (usually the first) packet can only achieve extremely limited code coverage. In this paper, we study such challenges and demonstrate the limitation of current non-stateful greybox fuzzer. In order to achieve higher code coverage, we design stateful protocol fuzzing strategies for communication protocols to explore the code related to different protocol states. Our approach contains a state switching engine, together with a multi-state forkserver to consistently and flexibly fuzz different states of an compiler-instrumented protocol program. Our experimental results on OpenSSL show that our approach achieves an improvement of 73% more code coverage and 2× unique crashes when comparing against fuzzing the first packet during a protocol handshake.

Leveraging Textual Specifications for Grammar-Based Fuzzing of Network Protocols (AAAI 2019)

Abstract: Grammar-based fuzzing is a technique used to find software vulnerabilities by injecting well-formed inputs generated following rules that encode application semantics. Most grammar-based fuzzers for network protocols rely on human experts to manually specify these rules. In this work we study automated learning of protocol rules from textual specifications (i.e. RFCs). We evaluate the automatically extracted protocol rules by applying them to a state-of-the-art fuzzer for transport protocols and show that it leads to a smaller number of test cases while finding the same attacks as the system that uses manually specified rules.

IoTFuzzer: Discovering Memory Corruptions in IoT Through App-based Fuzzing (NDSS 2018)

Abstract: With more IoT devices entering the consumer market, it becomes imperative to detect their security vulnerabilities before an attacker does. Existing binary analysis based approaches only work on firmware, which is less accessible except for those equipped with special tools for extracting the code from the device. To address this challenge in IoT security analysis, we present in this paper a novel automatic fuzzing framework, called IOTFUZZER, which aims at finding memory corruption vulnerabilities in IoT devices without access to their firmware images. The key idea is based upon the observation that most IoT devices are controlled through their official mobile apps, and such an app often contains rich information about the protocol it uses to communicate with its device. Therefore, by identifying and reusing program-specific logic (e.g., encryption) to mutate the test case (particularly message fields), we are able to effectively probe IoT targets without relying on any knowledge about its protocol specifications. In our research, we implemented IOTFUZZER and evaluated 17 real-world IoT devices running on different protocols, and our approach successfully identified 15 memory corruption vulnerabilities (including 8 previously unknown ones).

BaseSAFE: Baseband SAnitized Fuzzing through Emulation (WiSec 2020)

Abstract: Rogue base stations are an effective attack vector. Cellular basebands represent a critical part of the smartphone’s security: they parse large amounts of data even before authentication. They can, therefore, grant an attacker a very stealthy way to gather information about calls placed and even to escalate to the main operating system, over-the-air. In this paper, we discuss a novel cellular fuzzing framework that aims to help security researchers find critical bugs in cellular basebands and similar embedded systems. BaseSAFE allows partial rehosting of cellular basebands for fast instrumented fuzzing off-device, even for closed-source firmware blobs. BaseSAFE’s sanitizing drop-in allocator, enables spotting heap-based buffer-overflows quickly. Using our proof-of-concept harness, we fuzzed various parsers of the Nucleus RTOS-based MediaTek cellular baseband that are accessible from rogue base stations. The emulator instrumentation is highly optimized, reaching hundreds of executions per second on each core for our complex test case, around 15k test-cases per second in total. Furthermore, we discuss attack vectors for baseband modems. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first use of emulation-based fuzzing for security testing of commercial cellular basebands. Most of the tooling and approaches of BaseSAFE are also applicable for other low-level kernels and firmware. Using BaseSAFE, we were able to find memory corruptions including heap out-of-bounds writes using our proof-of-concept fuzzing harness in the MediaTek cellular baseband. BaseSAFE, the harness, and a large collection of LTE signaling message test cases will be released open-source upon publication of this paper.

Bbuzz: A Bit-aware Fuzzing Framework for Network Protocol Systematic Reverse Engineering and Analysis (MCC 2017)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a critical part of secure software development life-cycle, for finding vulnerabilities, developing exploits, and reverse engineering. This relies on appropriate approaches, tools and frameworks. File and protocol fuzzing is well covered, multiple approaches and implementations exist. Unfortunately, assessed tools do not posses the required capabilities for working with protocols, where constructing bit groups are not byte aligned. In this paper, a systematic approach is proposed and tool prototype developed for the cyber red teaming purposes. In a case study, the developed Bbuzz tool is used to reverse engineer a proprietary NATO Link-1 network protocol allowing to inject rogue airplane tracks into air operations command and control system.

Test Data Generation for Stateful Network Protocol Fuzzing Using a Rule-Based State Machine (2016)

Abstract: To improve the efficiency and coverage of stateful network protocol fuzzing, this paper proposes a new method, using a rule-based state machine and a stateful rule tree to guide the generation of fuzz testing data. The method first builds a rule-based state machine model as a formal description of the states of a network protocol. This removes safety paths, to cut down the scale of the state space. Then it uses a stateful rule tree to describe the relationship between states and messages, and then remove useless items from it. According to the message sequence obtained by the analysis of paths using the stateful rule tree and the protocol specification, an abstract data model of test case generation is defined. The fuzz testing data is produced by various generation algorithms through filling data in the fields of the data model. Using the rule-based state machine and the stateful rule tree, the quantity of test data can be reduced. Experimental results indicate that our method can discover the same vulnerabilities as traditional approaches, using less test data, while optimizing test data generation and improving test efficiency.

Protocol State Fuzzing of TLS Implementations (USENIX Security2015)

Abstract: We describe a largely automated and systematic analysis of TLS implementations by what we call ‘protocol state fuzzing’: we use state machine learning to infer state machines from protocol implementations, using only blackbox testing, and then inspect the inferred state machines to look for spurious behaviour which might be an indication of flaws in the program logic. For detecting the presence of spurious behaviour the approach is almost fully automatic: we automatically obtain state machines and any spurious behaviour is then trivial to see. Detecting whether the spurious behaviour introduces exploitable security weaknesses does require manual investigation. Still, we take the point of view that any spurious functionality in a security protocol implementation is dangerous and should be removed.

We analysed both server- and client-side implementations with a test harness that supports several key exchange algorithms and the option of client certificate authentication. We show that this approach can catch an interesting class of implementation flaws that is apparently common in security protocol implementations: in three of the TLS implementations analysed new security flaws were found (in GnuTLS, the Java Secure Socket Extension, and OpenSSL). This shows that protocol state fuzzing is a useful technique to systematically analyse security protocol implementations. As our analysis of different TLS implementations resulted in different and unique state machines for each one, the technique can also be used for fingerprinting TLS implementations.

PULSAR: Stateful Black-Box Fuzzing of Proprietary Network Protocols (Springer, Cham, 2015)

Abstract: The security of network services and their protocols critically depends on minimizing their attack surface. A single flaw in an implementation can suffice to compromise a service and expose sensitive data to an attacker. The discovery of vulnerabilities in protocol implementations, however, is a challenging task: While for standard protocols this process can be conducted with regular techniques for auditing, the situation becomes difficult for proprietary protocols if neither the program code nor the specification of the protocol are easily accessible. As a result, vulnerabilities in closed-source implementations can often remain undiscovered for a longer period of time. In this paper, we present PULSAR, a method for stateful black-box fuzzing of proprietary network protocols. Our method combines concepts from fuzz testing with techniques for automatic protocol reverse engineering and simulation. It proceeds by observing the traffic of a proprietary protocol and inferring a generative model for message formats and protocol states that can not only analyze but also simulate communication. During fuzzing this simulation can effectively explore the protocol state space and thereby enables uncovering vulnerabilities deep inside the protocol implementation. We demonstrate the efficacy of PULSAR in two case studies, where it identifies known as well as unknown vulnerabilities.

SECFUZZ: Fuzz-testing Security Protocols (AST 2012)

Abstract: We propose a light-weight, yet effective, technique for fuzz-testing security protocols. Our technique is modular, it exercises (stateful) protocol implementations in depth, and handles encrypted traffic. We use a concrete implementation of the protocol to generate valid inputs, and mutate the inputs using a set of fuzz operators. A dynamic memory analysis tool monitors the execution as an oracle to detect he vulnerabilities exposed by fuzz-testing. We provide the fuzzer with the necessary keys and cryptographic algorithms in order to properly mutate encrypted messages. We present a case study on two widely used, mature implementations of the Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol and report on two new vulnerabilities discovered by our fuzz-testing tool. We also compare the effectiveness of our technique to two existing model-based fuzz-testing tools for IKE.

Extension of SPIKE for Encrypted Protocol Fuzzing (2011)

Abstract: A fuzzer is a program that attempts to find security vulnerabilities in an application by sending random or semi-random input. Fuzzers have been widely used to find vulnerabilities in protocol implementations. The implementations may conform to the design of the protocol, but most of the times some glitches might remain. As a result vulnerabilities might remain unnoticed. Consequently, different implementations of the same protocol may be vulnerable to different kind of attacks. Fuzzers help us discover such implementation flaws. Among the currently available and popular ones, SPIKE is one recognized open-source fuzzing framework. However, SPIKE has a limitation of fuzzing only non-encrypted protocols. This paper presents the extension of SPIKE, called ESPIKE, for fuzzing of encrypted protocols. ESPIKE will facilitate testing implementations of SSL encrypted protocols. As a proof of concept for efficiency of ESPIKE we demonstrate its usage on sftp and https protocol.

AutoFuzz: Automated Network Protocol Fuzzing Framework (IJCSNS 2010)

Abstract: Assessing software security involves steps such as code review, risk analysis, penetration testing and fuzzing. During the fuzzing phase, the tester‟s goal is to find flaws in software by sending unexpected input to the target application and monitoring its behavior. In this paper we introduce the AutoFuzz [1] - extendable, open source framework used for testing network protocol implementations. AutoFuzz is a „smart‟, man-in-the-middle, semi deterministic network protocol fuzzing framework. AutoFuzz learns a protocol implementation by constructing a Finite State Automaton (FSA) which captures the observed communications between a client and a server [5]. In addition, AutoFuzz learns individual message syntax, including fields and probable types, by applying the bioinformatics techniques of [2]. Finally, AutoFuzz can fuzz client or server protocol implementations by intelligently modifying the communication sessions between them using the FSA as a guide. AutoFuzz was applied to a variety of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server implementations, confirming old and discovering new vulnerabilities.

SMT Fuzzing

Fuzzing SMT Solvers via Two-Dimensional Input Space Exploration (ISSTA 2021)

Abstract: Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT) solvers serve as the core engine of many techniques, such as symbolic execution. Therefore, ensuring the robustness and correctness of SMT solvers is critical. While fuzzing is an efficient and effective method for validating the quality of SMT solvers, we observe that prior fuzzing work only focused on generating various first-order formulas as the inputs but neglected the algorithmic configuration space of an SMT solver, which leads to under-reporting many deeply-hidden bugs. In this paper, we present Falcon, a fuzzing technique that explores both the formula space and the configuration space. Combining the two spaces significantly enlarges the search space and makes it challenging to detect bugs efficiently. We solve this problem by utilizing the correlations between the two spaces to reduce the search space, and introducing an adaptive mutation strategy to boost the search efficiency. During six months of extensive testing, Falcon finds 518 confirmed bugs in CVC4 and Z3, two state-of-the-art SMT solvers, 469 of which have already been fixed. Compared to two state-of-the-art fuzzers, Falcon detects 38 and 44 more bugs and improves the coverage by a large margin in 24 hours of testing.

Detecting Critical Bugs in SMT Solvers Using Blackbox Mutational Fuzzing (FSE 2020)

Abstract: Formal methods use SMT solvers extensively for deciding formula satisfiability, for instance, in software verification, systematic test generation, and program synthesis. However, due to their complex implementations, solvers may contain critical bugs that lead to unsound results. Given the wide applicability of solvers in software reliability, relying on such unsound results may have detrimental consequences. In this paper, we present STORM, a novel blackbox mutational fuzzing technique for detecting critical bugs in SMT solvers. We run our fuzzer on seven mature solvers and find 29 previously unknown critical bugs. STORM is already being used in testing new features of popular solvers before deployment.

On the Unusual Effectiveness of Type-aware Mutations for Testing SMT Solvers

Abstract: We propose type-aware operator mutation, a simple, but unusually effective approach for testing SMT solvers. The key idea is to mutate operators of conforming types within the seed formulas to generate well-typed mutant formulas. These mutant formulas are then used as the test cases for SMT solvers. We realized typeaware operator mutation within the OpFuzz tool and used it to stress-test Z3 and CVC4, two state-of-the-art SMT solvers. Type-aware operator mutations are unusually effective: During nine months of extensive testing with OpFuzz, we reported 909 bugs in Z3 and CVC4,1 out of which 632 bugs were confirmed and 531 of the confirmed bugs were fixed by the developers. The detected bugs are highly diverse — we found bugs of many different types (soundness bugs, invalid model bugs, crashes, etc.), logics and solver configurations. We have further conducted an in-depth study on the bugs found by OpFuzz. The study results show that the bugs found by OpFuzz are of high quality. Many of them affect core components of the SMT solvers’ codebases, and some required major changes for the developers to fix. Among the 909 bugs found by OpFuzz, 130 were soundness bugs, the most critical bugs in SMT solvers, and 501 were in the default modes of the solvers. Notably, OpFuzz found 16 critical soundness bugs in CVC4, which has proved to be a very stable SMT solver

BanditFuzz: Fuzzing SMT Solvers with Reinforcement Learning (2020)

Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT) solvers are fundamental tools in the broad context of software engineering and security research. If SMT solvers are to continue to have an impact, it is imperative we develop efficient and systematic testing methods for them. To this end, we present a reinforcement learning driven fuzzing system BanditFuzz that zeroes in on the grammatical constructs of well-formed solver inputs that are the root cause of performance or correctness issues in solvers-under-test. To the best of our knowledge, BanditFuzz is the first machine-learning based fuzzer for SMT solvers. BanditFuzz takes as input a grammar G describing the well-formed inputs to a set of distinct solvers (say, P_1 and P_2) that implement the same specification and a fuzzing objective (e.g., maximize the relative performance difference between P_1 and P_2), and outputs a ranked list of grammatical constructs that are likely to maximize performance differences between P_1 and P_2 or are root causes of errors in these solvers. Typically, mutation fuzzing is implemented as a set of random mutations applied to a given input. By contrast, the key innovation behind BanditFuzz is the modeling of a grammar-preserving fuzzing mutator as a reinforcement learning (RL) agent that, via blackbox interactions with programs-under-test, learns which grammatical constructs are most likely the cause of an error or performance issue. Using BanditFuzz, we discovered 1700 syntactically unique inputs resulting in inconsistent answers across state-of-the-art SMT solvers Z3, CVC4, Colibri, MathSAT, and Z3str3 over the floating-point and string SMT theories. Further, using BanditFuzz, we constructed two benchmark suites (with 400 floating-point and 110 string instances) that expose performance issues in all considered solvers. We also performed a comparison of BanditFuzz against random, mutation, and evolutionary fuzzing methods. We observed up to a 31% improvement in performance fuzzing and up to 81% improvement in the number of bugs found by BanditFuzz relative to these other methods for the same amount of time provided to all methods.

Validating SMT Solvers via Semantic Fusion (PLDI 2020)

Abstract: We introduce Semantic Fusion, a general, effective methodology for validating Satisfiability Modulo Theory (SMT) solvers. Our key idea is to fuse two existing equisatisfiable (i.e., both satisfiable or unsatisfiable) formulas into a new formula that combines the structures of its ancestors in a novel manner and preserves the satisfiability by construction. This fused formula is then used for validating SMT solvers. We realized Semantic Fusion as YinYang, a practical SMT solver testing tool. During four months of extensive testing, YinYang has found 45 confirmed, unique bugs in the default arithmetic and string solvers of Z3 and CVC4, the two state-of-the-art SMT solvers. Among these, 41 have already been fixed by the developers. The majority (29/45) of these bugs expose critical soundness issues. Our bug reports and testing effort have been well-appreciated by SMT solver developers.

Automatically Testing String Solvers (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: SMT solvers are at the basis of many applications, such as program verification, program synthesis, and test case generation. For all these applications to provide reliable results, SMT solvers must answer queries correctly. However, since they are complex, highly-optimized software systems, ensuring their correctness is challenging. In particular, state-of-the-art testing techniques do not reliably detect when an SMT solver is unsound.

In this paper, we present an automatic approach for generating test cases that reveal soundness errors in the implementations of string solvers, as well as potential completeness and performance issues. We synthesize input formulas that are satisfiable or unsatisfiable by construction and use this ground truth as test oracle. We automatically apply satisfiability-preserving transformations to generate increasingly-complex formulas, which allows us to detect many errors with simple inputs and, thus, facilitates debugging.

The experimental evaluation shows that our technique effectively reveals bugs in the implementation of widely-used SMT solvers and applies also to other types of solvers, such as automata-based solvers. We focus on strings here, but our approach carries over to other theories and their combinations.

StringFuzz: A fuzzer for string solvers (CAV 2018)

Abstract: In this paper, we introduce StringFuzz: a modular SMT-LIB problem instance transformer and generator for string solvers. We supply a repository of instances generated by StringFuzz in SMT-LIB 2.0/2.5 format. We systematically compare Z3str3, CVC4, Z3str2, and Norn on groups of such instances, and identify those that are particularly challenging for some solvers. We briefly explain our observations and show how StringFuzz helped discover causes of performance degradations in Z3str3.

Anti Fuzzing

Antifuzz: impeding fuzzing audits of binary executables (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: A general defense strategy in computer security is to increase the cost of successful attacks in both computational resources as well as human time. In the area of binary security, this is commonly done by using obfuscation methods to hinder reverse engineering and the search for software vulnerabilities. However, recent trends in automated bug finding changed the modus operandi. Nowadays it is very common for bugs to be found by various fuzzing tools. Due to ever-increasing amounts of automation and research on better fuzzing strategies, large-scale, dragnet-style fuzzing of many hundreds of targets becomes viable. As we show, current obfuscation techniques are aimed at increasing the cost of human understanding and do little to slow down fuzzing. In this paper, we introduce several techniques to protect a binary executable against an analysis with automated bug finding approaches that are based on fuzzing, symbolic/concolic execution, and taint-assisted fuzzing (commonly known as hybrid fuzzing). More specifically, we perform a systematic analysis of the fundamental assumptions of bug finding tools and develop general countermeasures for each assumption. Note that these techniques are not designed to target specific implementations of fuzzing tools, but address general assumptions that bug finding tools necessarily depend on. Our evaluation demonstrates that these techniques effectively impede fuzzing audits, while introducing a negligible performance overhead. Just as obfuscation techniques increase the amount of human labor needed to find a vulnerability, our techniques render automated fuzzing-based approaches futile.

FUZZIFICATION: Anti-Fuzzing Technique (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a software testing technique that quickly and automatically explores the input space of a program without knowing its internals. Therefore, developers commonly use fuzzing as part of test integration throughout the software development process. Unfortunately, it also means that such a blackbox and the automatic natures of fuzzing are appealing to adversaries who are looking for zero-day vulnerabilities. To solve this problem, we propose a new mitigation approach, called Fuzzification , that helps developers protect the released, binary-only software from attackers who are capable of applying state-of-the-art fuzzing techniques. Given a performance budget, this approach aims to hinder the fuzzing process from adversaries as much as possible. We propose three Fuzzification techniques: 1) SpeedBump, which amplifies the slowdown in normal executions by hundreds of times to the fuzzed execution, 2) BranchTrap, interfering with feedback logic by hiding paths and polluting coverage maps, and 3) AntiHybrid, hindering taint-analysis and symbolic execution. Each technique is designed with best-effort, defensive measures that attempt to hinder adversaries from bypassing Fuzzification. Our evaluation on popular fuzzers and real-world applications shows that Fuzzification effectively reduces the number of discovered paths by 70.3% and decreases the number of identified crashes by 93.0% from real-world binaries, and decreases the number of detected bugs by 67.5% from LAVA-M dataset while under user-specified overheads for common workloads. We discuss the robustness of Fuzzification techniques against adversarial analysis techniques. We open-source our Fuzzification system to foster future research.

Kernel Fuzzing

NTFUZZ: Enabling Type-Aware Kernel Fuzzing on Windows with Static Binary Analysis(S&P 2021)

Abstract: Although it is common practice for kernel fuzzers to leverage type information of system calls, current Windows kernel fuzzers do not follow the practice as most system calls are private and largely undocumented. In this paper, we present a practical static binary analyzer that automatically infers system call types on Windows at scale. We incorporate our analyzer to NTFUZZ, a type-aware Windows kernel fuzzing framework. To our knowledge, this is the first practical fuzzing system that utilizes scalable binary analysis on a COTS OS. With NTFUZZ, we found 11 previously unknown kernel bugs, and earned $25,000 through the bug bounty program offered by Microsoft. All these results confirm the practicality of our system as a kernel fuzzer.

Finding Bugs in File Systems with an Extensible Fuzzing Framework (TOS 2020)

Abstract: File systems are too large to be bug free. Although handwritten test suites have been widely used to stress file systems, they can hardly keep up with the rapid increase in file system size and complexity, leading to new bugs being introduced. These bugs come in various flavors: buffer overflows to complicated semantic bugs. Although bug-specific checkers exist, they generally lack a way to explore file system states thoroughly. More importantly, no turnkey solution exists that unifies the checking effort of various aspects of a file system under one umbrella.

In this article, to highlight the potential of applying fuzzing to find any type of file system bugs in a generic way, we propose Hydra, an extensible fuzzing framework. Hydra provides building blocks for file system fuzzing, including input mutators, feedback engines, test executors, and bug post-processors. As a result, developers only need to focus on building the core logic for finding bugs of their interests. We showcase the effectiveness of Hydra with four checkers that hunt crash inconsistency, POSIX violations, logic assertion failures, and memory errors. So far, Hydra has discovered 157 new bugs in Linux file systems, including three in verified file systems (FSCQ and Yxv6).

Finding race conditions in Kernels: from fuzzing to symbolic exection (2020)

Abstract: The scale and pervasiveness of concurrent software pose challenges for security researchers: race conditions are more prevalent than ever, and the growing software complexity keeps exacerbating the situation — expanding the arms race between security practitioners and attackers beyond memory errors. As a consequence, we need a new generation of bug hunting tools that not only scale well with increasingly larger codebases but also catch up with the growing importance of race conditions.

In this thesis, two complementary race detection frameworks for OS kernels are presented: multi-dimensional fuzz testing and symbolic checking. Fuzz testing turns bug finding into a probabilistic search, but current practices restrict themselves to one dimension only (sequential executions). This thesis illustrates how to explore the concurrency dimension and extend the bug scope beyond memory errors to the broad spectrum of concurrency bugs. On the other hand, conventional symbolic executors face challenges when applied to OS kernels, such as path explosions due to branching and loops. They also lack a systematic way of modeling and tracking constraints in the concurrency dimension (e.g., to enforce a particular schedule for thread interleavings) The gap can be partially filled with novel techniques for symbolic execution in this thesis.

PeriScope: An Effective Probing and Fuzzing Framework for the Hardware-OS Boundary (NDSS2019)

Abstract: The OS kernel is an attractive target for remote attackers. If compromised, the kernel gives adversaries full system access, including the ability to install rootkits, extract sensitive information, and perform other malicious actions, all while evading detection. Most of the kernel’s attack surface is situated along the system call boundary. Ongoing kernel protection efforts have focused primarily on securing this boundary; several capable analysis and fuzzing frameworks have been developed for this purpose. However, there are additional paths to kernel compromise that do not involve system calls, as demonstrated by several recent exploits. For example, by compromising the firmware of a peripheral device such as a Wi-Fi chipset and subsequently sending malicious inputs from the Wi-Fi chipset to the Wi-Fi driver, adversaries have been able to gain control over the kernel without invoking a single system call. Unfortunately, there are currently no practical probing and fuzzing frameworks that can help developers find and fix such vulnerabilities occurring along the hardware-OS boundary. We present PeriScope, a Linux kernel based probing framework that enables fine-grained analysis of device-driver interactions. PeriScope hooks into the kernel’s page fault handling mechanism to either passively monitor and log traffic between device drivers and their corresponding hardware, or mutate the data stream on-the-fly using a fuzzing component, PeriFuzz, thus mimicking an active adversarial attack. PeriFuzz accurately models the capabilities of an attacker on peripheral devices, to expose different classes of bugs including, but not limited to, memory corruption bugs and double-fetch bugs. To demonstrate the risk that peripheral devices pose, as well as the value of our framework, we have evaluated PeriFuzz on the Wi-Fi drivers of two popular chipset vendors, where we discovered 15 unique vulnerabilities, 9 of which were previously unknown.

Hydra: An Extensible Fuzzing Framework for Finding Semantic Bugs in File Systems (SOSP 2019)

Abstract: File systems are too large to be bug free. Although handwritten test suites have been widely used to stress file systems, they can hardly keep up with the rapid increase in file system size and complexity, leading to new bugs being introduced and reported regularly. These bugs come in various flavors: simple buffer overflows to sophisticated semantic bugs. Although bug-specific checkers exist, they generally lack a way to explore file system states thoroughly. More importantly, no turnkey solution exists that unifies the checking effort of various aspects of a file system under one umbrella.

In this paper, we highlight the potential of applying fuzzing to find not just memory errors but, in theory, any type of file system bugs with an extensible fuzzing framework: Hydra. Hydra provides building blocks for file system fuzzing, including input mutators, feedback engines, a libOS-based executor, and a bug reproducer with test case minimization. As a result, developers only need to focus on building the core logic for finding bugs of their own interests. We showcase the effectiveness of Hydra with four checkers that hunt crash inconsistency, POSIX violations, logic assertion failures, and memory errors. So far, Hydra has discovered 91 new bugs in Linux file systems, including one in a verified file system (FSCQ), as well as four POSIX violations.

Fuzzing File Systems via Two-Dimensional Input Space Exploration (S&P 2019)

Abstract: File systems, a basic building block of an OS, are too big and too complex to be bug free. Nevertheless, file systems rely on regular stress-testing tools and formal checkers to find bugs, which are limited due to the ever-increasing complexity of both file systems and OSes. Thus, fuzzing, proven to be an effective and a practical approach, becomes a preferable choice, as it does not need much knowledge about a target. However, three main challenges exist in fuzzing file systems: mutating a large image blob that degrades overall performance, generating image-dependent file operations, and reproducing found bugs, which is difficult for existing OS fuzzers. Hence, we present JANUS, the first feedback-driven fuzzer that explores the two-dimensional input space of a file system, i.e., mutating metadata on a large image, while emitting image-directed file operations. In addition, JANUS relies on a library OS rather than on traditional VMs for fuzzing, which enables JANUS to load a fresh copy of the OS, thereby leading to better reproducibility of bugs. We evaluate JANUS on eight file systems and found 90 bugs in the upstream Linux kernel, 62 of which have been acknowledged. Forty-three bugs have been fixed with 32 CVEs assigned. In addition, JANUS achieves higher code coverage on all the file systems after fuzzing 12 hours, when compared with the state-of-the-art fuzzer Syzkaller for fuzzing file systems. JANUS visits 4.19x and 2.01x more code paths in Btrfs and ext4, respectively. Moreover, JANUS is able to reproduce 88-100% of the crashes, while Syzkaller fails on all of them.

Unicorefuzz: On the Viability of Emulation for Kernelspace Fuzzing (USENIX WOOT’19)

Abstract: Fuzzing uncovers an ever-growing number of critical vulnerabilities. Despite the simple concept—execute the target until it crashes—setting up fuzz tests can pose complex challenges. This is especially true for code that cannot run as part of a userland process on desktop operating systems—for example device drivers and kernel components. In this paper, we explore the use of CPU emulation to fuzz arbitrary parsers in kernelspace with coverage-based feedback. We propose and open-source Unicorefuzz and explain merits and pitfalls of emulation-based fuzzing approaches. The viability of the approach is evaluated against artificial Linux kernel modules, the Open vSwitch network virtualization component as well as bugs originally uncovered by syzcaller. Emulator-based fuzzing of kernel code is not very complex to set up and can even be used to fuzz operating systems and devices for which no source code is available.

Razzer: Finding Kernel Race Bugs through Fuzzing (S&P 2019)

Abstract: A data race in a kernel is an important class of bugs, critically impacting the reliability and security of the associated system. As a result of a race, the kernel may become unresponsive. Even worse, an attacker may launch a privilege escalation attack to acquire root privileges. In this paper, we propose Razzer, a tool to find race bugs in kernels. The core of Razzer is in guiding fuzz testing towards potential data race spots in the kernel. Razzer employs two techniques to find races efficiently: a static analysis and a deterministic thread interleaving technique. Using a static analysis, Razzer identifies over-approximated potential data race spots, guiding the fuzzer to search for data races in the kernel more efficiently. Using the deterministic thread interleaving technique implemented at the hypervisor, Razzer tames the non-deterministic behavior of the kernel such that it can deterministically trigger a race. We implemented a prototype of Razzer and ran the latest Linux kernel (from v4.16-rc3 to v4.18-rc3) using Razzer. As a result, Razzer discovered 30 new races in the kernel, with 16 subsequently confirmed and accordingly patched by kernel developers after they were reported.

MoonShine: Optimizing OS Fuzzer Seed Selection with Trace Distillation (USENIX Security2018)

Abstract: OS fuzzers primarily test the system call interface between the OS kernel and user-level applications for security vulnerabilities. The effectiveness of evolutionary OS fuzzers depends heavily on the quality and diversity of their seed system call sequences. However, generating good seeds for OS fuzzing is a hard problem as the behavior of each system call depends heavily on the OS kernel state created by the previously executed system calls. Therefore, popular evolutionary OS fuzzers often rely on hand-coded rules for generating valid seed sequences of system calls that can bootstrap the fuzzing process. Unfortunately, this approach severely restricts the diversity of the seed system call sequences and therefore limits the effectiveness of the fuzzers. In this paper, we develop MoonShine, a novel strategy for distilling seeds for OS fuzzers from system call traces of real-world programs while still maintaining the dependencies across the system calls. MoonShine leverages light-weight static analysis for efficiently detecting dependencies across different system calls. We designed and implemented MoonShine as an extension to Syzkaller, a state-of-the-art evolutionary fuzzer for the Linux kernel. Starting from traces containing 2.8 million system calls gathered from 3,220 real-world programs, MoonShine distilled down to just over 14,000 calls while preserving 86% of the original code coverage. Using these distilled seed system call sequences, MoonShine was able to improve Syzkaller’s achieved code coverage for the Linux kernel by 13% on average. MoonShine also found 14 new vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel that were not found by Syzkaller.

FUZE: Towards Facilitating Exploit Generation for Kernel Use-After-Free Vulnerabilities (USENIX Security2018)

Abstract: Software vendors usually prioritize their bug remediation based on ease of their exploitation. However, accurately determining exploitability typically takes tremendous hours and requires significant manual efforts. To address this issue, automated exploit generation techniques can be adopted. In practice, they however exhibit an insufficient ability to evaluate exploitability particularly for the kernel Use-After-Free (UAF) vulnerabilities. This is mainly because of the complexity of UAF exploitation as well as the scalability of an OS kernel.

In this paper, we therefore propose FUZE, a new framework to facilitate the process of kernel UAF exploitation. The design principle behind this technique is that we expect the ease of crafting an exploit could augment a security analyst with the ability to expedite exploitability evaluation. Technically, FUZE utilizes kernel fuzzing along with symbolic execution to identify, analyze and evaluate the system calls valuable and useful for kernel UAF exploitation.

To demonstrate the utility of FUZE, we implement FUZE on a 64-bit Linux system by extending a binary analysis framework and a kernel fuzzer. Using 15 real-world kernel UAF vulnerabilities on Linux systems, we then demonstrate FUZE could not only escalate kernel UAF exploitability and but also diversify working exploits. In addition, we show that FUZE could facilitate security mitigation bypassing, making exploitability evaluation less labor-intensive and more efficient.

kAFL: Hardware-Assisted Feedback Fuzzing for OS Kernels (Usenix Security2017)

Abstract: Many kinds of memory safety vulnerabilities have been endangering software systems for decades. Amongst other approaches, fuzzing is a promising technique to unveil various software faults. Recently, feedback-guided fuzzing demonstrated its power, producing a steady stream of security-critical software bugs. Most fuzzing efforts—especially feedback fuzzing—are limited to user space components of an operating system (OS), although bugs in kernel components are more severe, because they allow an attacker to gain access to a system with full privileges. Unfortunately, kernel components are difficult to fuzz as feedback mechanisms (i.e., guided code coverage) cannot be easily applied. Additionally, non-determinism due to interrupts, kernel threads, statefulness, and similar mechanisms poses problems. Furthermore, if a process fuzzes its own kernel, a kernel crash highly impacts the performance of the fuzzer as the OS needs to reboot.

In this paper, we approach the problem of coverage-guided kernel fuzzing in an OS-independent and hardware-assisted way: We utilize a hypervisor and Intel’s Processor Trace (PT) technology. This allows us to remain independent of the target OS as we just require a small user space component that interacts with the targeted OS. As a result, our approach introduces almost no performance overhead, even in cases where the OS crashes, and performs up to 17,000 executions per second on an off-the-shelf laptop. We developed a framework called kernel-AFL (kAFL) to assess the security of Linux, macOS, and Windows kernel components. Among many crashes, we uncovered several flaws in the ext4 driver for Linux, the HFS and APFS file system of macOS, and the NTFS driver of Windows.

DIFUZE: Interface aware fuzzing for kernel drivers (CCS 2017)

Abstract: Device drivers are an essential part in modern Unix-like systems to handle operations on physical devices, from hard disks and printers to digital cameras and Bluetooth speakers. The surge of new hardware, particularly on mobile devices, introduces an explosive growth of device drivers in system kernels. Many such drivers are provided by third-party developers, which are susceptible to security vulnerabilities and lack proper vetting. Unfortunately, the complex input data structures for device drivers render traditional analysis tools, such as fuzz testing, less effective, and so far, research on kernel driver security is comparatively sparse. In this paper, we present DIFUZE, an interface-aware fuzzing tool to automatically generate valid inputs and trigger the execution of the kernel drivers. We leverage static analysis to compose correctly-structured input in the userspace to explore kernel drivers. DIFUZE is fully automatic, ranging from identifying driver handlers, to mapping to device file names, to constructing complex argument instances. We evaluate our approach on seven modern Android smartphones. The results showthat DIFUZE can effectively identify kernel driver bugs, and reports 32 previously unknown vulnerabilities, including flaws that lead to arbitrary code execution.

IMF: Inferred Model-based Fuzzer (CCS 2017)

Abstract: Kernel vulnerabilities are critical in security because they naturally allow attackers to gain unprivileged root access. Although there has been much research on finding kernel vulnerabilities from source code, there are relatively few research on kernel fuzzing, which is a practical bug finding technique that does not require any source code. Existing kernel fuzzing techniques involve feeding in random input values to kernel API functions. However, such a simple approach does not reveal latent bugs deep in the kernel code, because many API functions are dependent on each other, and they can quickly reject arbitrary parameter values based on their calling context. In this paper, we propose a novel fuzzing technique for commodity OS kernels that leverages inferred dependence model between API function calls to discover deep kernel bugs. We implement our technique on a fuzzing system, called IMF. IMF has already found 32 previously unknown kernel vulnerabilities on the latest macOS version 10.12.3 (16D32) at the time of this writing.

Hybrid Fuzzing:

FUZZOLIC: Mixing fuzzing and concolic execution (Computers&Security 2021)

Abstract: In the last few years, a large variety of approaches and methodologies have been explored in the context of software testing, ranging from black-box techniques, such as fuzzing, to white-box techniques, such as concolic execution, with a full spectrum of instances in between. Using these techniques, developers and security researchers have been able to identify in the last decade a large number of critical vulnerabilities in thousands of software projects.

In this article, we investigate how to improve the performance and effectiveness of concolic execution, proposing two main enhancements to the original approach. On one side, we devise a novel concolic executor that can analyze complex binary programs while running under QEMU and efficiently produce symbolic queries, which could generate valuable program inputs when solved. On the other side, we investigate whether techniques borrowed from the fuzzing domain can be applied to solve the symbolic queries generated by concolic execution, providing a viable alternative to accurate but expensive SMT solving techniques. We show that the combination of our concolic engine, Fuzzolic, and our approximate solver, Fuzzy-Sat, can perform better in terms of code coverage than popular state-of-the-art fuzzers on a variety of complex programs and can identify different unknown bugs in several real-world applications.

SHFuzz: A hybrid fuzzing method assisted by static analysis for binary programs (China Communications 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an effective technique to find security bugs in programs by quickly exploring the input space of programs. To further discover vulnerabilities hidden in deep execution paths, the hybrid fuzzing combines fuzzing and concolic execution for going through complex branch conditions. In general, we observe that the execution path which comes across more and complex basic blocks may have a higher chance of containing a security bug. Based on this observation, we propose a hybrid fuzzing method assisted by static analysis for binary programs. The basic idea of our method is to prioritize seed inputs according to the complexity of their associated execution paths. For this purpose, we utilize static analysis to evaluate the complexity of each basic block and employ the hardware trace mechanism to dynamically extract the execution path for calculating the seed inputs’ weights. The key advantage of our method is that our system can test binary programs efficiently by using the hardware trace and hybrid fuzzing. To evaluate the effectiveness of our method, we design and implement a prototype system, namely SHFuzz. The evaluation results show SHFuzz discovers more unique crashes on several real-world applications and the LAVA-M dataset when compared to the previous solutions.

A Priority Based Path Searching Method for Improving Hybrid Fuzzing (Computers & Security 2021)

Abstract: Hybrid fuzzing which combines classical fuzzing with concolic execution to produce effective test suites is an advanced software vulnerability detection technique. Because fuzzing and concolic execution are complementary in nature, some researchers propose “optimal strategy” and “discriminative dispatch strategy” to improve the performance of hybrid fuzzing. Although the ideas are interesting and useful, they have some limitations, such as high time overhead and difficulties in implementation. In this paper, we propose a Priority Based Path Searching method (PBPS) to utilize the capability of concolic execution better. PBPS evaluates each path’s solving cost and solving demand, and prioritizes them based on two path characteristics, which are path lengths and sample-hits for concolic execution. The rationale is to keep the pipeline full by readily feeding the concolic engine with paths whose constraints are simpler to solve and are less likely to be explored by fuzz testing. We implement PBPS in Driller, which is a popular hybrid fuzzer and we evaluate our system “QuickFuzz” with the CQE dataset. Experimental results show that compared with DigFuzz and the original Driller, “QuickFuzz” discovers more vulnerabilities and achieves higher code coverage on the CQE dataset.

CSEFuzz: Fuzz Testing Based on Symbolic Execution (Access 2020)

Abstract: Fuzz testing has been successful in finding defects of various software packages. These defects include file parsing, image processing, Internet browsers, and network protocols. However, the quality of the initial seed test cases greatly influences the coverage and defect detection capability of fuzz testing. To address this issue, we propose CSEFuzz, a fuzz testing approach based on symbolic execution for defect detection. First, CSEFuzz generates candidate test cases by symbolic execution and collects coverage information of the test cases. Then, CSEFuzz extracts the test-case templates of the test cases and selects a set of test-case templates according to specific coverage criteria. Finally, CSEFuzz selects test cases according to the selected test-case templates, and the selected test cases are used as initial seed test cases for fuzz testing. Experiments are conducted on 11 open-source programs. The results show that in comparison with afl-cmin, which is the test-case selection command of Kelinci, CSEFuzz with a path coverage criterion reduces the time costs of the initial seed test selection and verification by 94.26%. In addition, compared with afl-cmin, 32 more paths are covered and 16 more defects are detected by CSEFuzz

Sequence directed hybrid fuzzing (SANER 2020)

Abstract: Existing directed grey-box fuzzers are effective compared with coverage-based fuzzers. However, they fail to achieve a balance between effectiveness and efficiency, and it is difficult to cover complex paths due to random mutation. To mitigate the issue, we propose a novel approach, sequence directed hybrid fuzzing (SDHF), which leverages a sequence-directed strategy and concolic execution technique to enhance the effectiveness of fuzzing. Given a set of target statement sequences of a program, SDHF aims to generate inputs that can reach the statements in each sequence in order and trigger potential bugs in the program. We implement the proposed approach in a tool called Berry and evaluate its capability on crash reproduction, true positive verification, and vulnerability detection. Experimental results demonstrate that Berry outperforms four state-of-the-art fuzzers, including directed fuzzers BugRedux, AFLGo and Lolly, and undirected hybrid fuzzer QSYM. Moreover, Berry found 7 new vulnerabilities in real-world programs such as UPX and GNU Libextractor, and 3 new CVEs were assigned.

HFL: Hybrid Fuzzing on the Linux Kernel (NDSS 2020)

Abstract: Hybrid fuzzing, combining symbolic execution and fuzzing, is a promising approach for vulnerability discovery because each approach can complement the other. However, we observe that applying hybrid fuzzing to kernel testing is challenging because the following unique characteristics of the kernel make a naive adoption of hybrid fuzzing inefficient: 1) having many implicit control transfers determined by syscall arguments, 2) controlling and matching internal system state via system calls, and 3) inferring nested argument type for invoking system calls. Failure to handling such challenges will render both fuzzing and symbolic execution inefficient, and thereby, will result in an inefficient hybrid fuzzing. Although these challenges are essential to both fuzzing and symbolic execution, however, to the best of our knowledge, existing kernel testing approaches either naively use each technique separately without handling such challenges or imprecisely handle a part of challenges only by static analysis.

To this end, this paper proposes HFL, which not only combines fuzzing with symbolic execution for hybrid fuzzing but also addresses kernel-specific fuzzing challenges via three distinct features: 1) converting implicit control transfers to explicit transfers, 2) inferring system call sequence to build a consistent system state, and 3) identifying nested arguments types of system calls. As a result, HFL found 24 previously unknown vulnerabilities in recent Linux kernels. Additionally, HFL achieves 14% higher code coverage than Syzkaller, and over S2E/TriforceAFL, achieving even eight times better coverage, using the same amount of resource (CPU, time, etc.). Regarding vulnerability discovery performance, HFL found 13 known vulnerabilities more than three times faster than Syzkaller.

PANGOLIN: Incremental Hybrid Fuzzing with Polyhedral Path Abstraction (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Hybrid fuzzing, which combines the merits of both fuzzing and concolic execution, has become one of the most important trends in coverage-guided fuzzing techniques. Despite the tremendous research on hybrid fuzzers, we observe that existing techniques are still inefficient. One important reason is that these techniques, which we refer to as non-incremental fuzzers, cache and reuse few computation results and, thus, lose many optimization opportunities. To be incremental, we propose “polyhedral path abstraction”, which preserves the exploration state in the concolic execution stage and allows more effective mutation and constraint solving over existing techniques. We have implemented our idea as a tool, namely PANGOLIN, and evaluated it using LAVA-M as well as nine real-world programs. The evaluation results showed that PANGOLIN outperforms the state-of-the-art fuzzing techniques with the improvement of coverage rate ranging from 10% to 30%. Moreover, PANGOLIN found 400 more bugs in LAVA-M and discovered 41 unseen bugs with 8 of them assigned with the CVE IDs.

SAVIOR: Towards Bug-Driven Hybrid Testing (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Hybrid testing combines fuzz testing and concolic execution. It leverages fuzz testing to test easy-to-reach code regions and uses concolic execution to explore code blocks guarded by complex branch conditions. As a result, hybrid testing is able to reach deeper into program state space than fuzz testing or concolic execution alone. Recently, hybrid testing has seen significant advancement. However, its code coveragecentric design is inefficient in vulnerability detection. First, it blindly selects seeds for concolic execution and aims to explore new code continuously. However, as statistics shows, a large portion of the explored code is often invulnerable. Therefore, giving equal attention to every part of the code during hybrid testing is a non-optimal strategy. It also slows down the detection of real vulnerabilities by over 43%. Second, classic hybrid testing quickly moves on after reaching a chunk of code, rather than examining the hidden defects inside. It may frequently miss subtle yet exploitable vulnerabilities despite that it has already explored the vulnerable code paths.

We propose SAVIOR, a new hybrid testing framework pioneering a bug-driven principle. Unlike the existing hybrid testing tools, SAVIOR prioritizes the concolic execution of the seeds that are likely to uncover more vulnerabilities. Moreover, SAVIOR verifies all vulnerable program locations along the executing program path. By modeling faulty situations using SMT constraints, SAVIOR reasons the feasibility of vulnerabilities and generates concrete test cases as proofs. Our evaluation shows that the bugdriven approach outperforms the mainstream automated testing techniques, including the state-of-the-art hybrid testing driven by code coverage. On average, SAVIOR detects vulnerabilities 43.4% faster than DRILLER and 44.3% faster than QSYM, leading to the discovery of 88 and 76 more security violations, respectively. According to the experimental result on 11 well-fuzzed benchmark programs, SAVIOR triggers 481 unique security violations within the first 24 hours.

Deferred Concretization in Symbolic Execution via Fuzzing (ISSTA 2019)

Abstract: Concretization is an effective weapon in the armory of symbolic execution engines. However, concretization can lead to loss in coverage, path divergence, and generation of test-cases on which the intended bugs are not reproduced. In this paper, we propose an algorithm, Deferred Concretization, that uses a new category for values within symbolic execution (referred to as the symcrete values) to pend concretization till they are actually needed. Our tool, COLOSSUS, built around these ideas, was able to gain an average coverage improvement of 66.94% and reduce divergence by more than 55% relative to the state-of-the-art symbolic execution engine, KLEE. Moreover, we found that KLEE loses about 38.60% of the states in the symbolic execution tree that COLOSSUS is able to recover, showing that COLOSSUS is capable of covering a much larger coverage space.

Send Hardest Problems My Way: Probabilistic Path Prioritization for Hybrid Fuzzing (NDSS 2019)

Abstract: Hybrid fuzzing which combines fuzzing and concolic execution has become an advanced technique for software vulnerability detection. Based on the observation that fuzzing and concolic execution are complementary in nature, the state-of-the-art hybrid fuzzing systems deploy “demand launch” and “optimal switch” strategies. Although these ideas sound intriguing, we point out several fundamental limitations in them, due to oversimplified assumptions. We then propose a novel “discriminative dispatch” strategy to better utilize the capability of concolic execution. We design a novel Monte Carlo based probabilistic path prioritization model to quantify each path’s difficulty and prioritize them for concolic execution. This model treats fuzzing as a random sampling process. It calculates each path’s probability based on the sampling information. Finally, our model prioritizes and assigns the most difficult paths to concolic execution. We implement a prototype system DigFuzz and evaluate our system with two representative datasets. Results show that the concolic execution in DigFuzz outperforms than that in a state-of-the-art hybrid fuzzing system Driller in every major aspect. In particular, the concolic execution in DigFuzz contributes to discovering more vulnerabilities (12 vs. 5) and producing more code coverage (18.9% vs. 3.8%) on the CQE dataset than the concolic execution in Driller.

Intriguer: Field-Level Constraint Solving for Hybrid Fuzzing (CCS 2019)

Abstract: Hybrid fuzzing, which combines fuzzing and concolic execution, is promising in light of the recent performance improvements in concolic engines. We have observed that there is room for further improvement: symbolic emulation is still slow, unnecessary constraints dominate solving time, resources are overly allocated, and hard-to-trigger bugs are missed. To address these problems, we present a new hybrid fuzzer named Intriguer. The key idea of Intriguer is field-level constraint solving, which optimizes symbolic execution with field-level knowledge. Intriguer performs instruction-level taint analysis and records execution traces without data transfer instructions like mov. Intriguer then reduces the execution traces for tainted instructions that accessed a wide range of input bytes, and infers input fields to build field transition trees. With these optimizations, Intriguer can efficiently perform symbolic emulation for more relevant instructions and invoke a solver for complicated constraints only. Our evaluation results indicate that Intriguer outperforms the state-of-the-art fuzzers: Intriguer found all the bugs in the LAVA-M(5h) benchmark dataset for ground truth performance, and also discovered 43 new security bugs in seven real-world programs. We reported the bugs and received 23 new CVEs.

DeepFuzzer: Accelerated Deep Greybox Fuzzing (TDSC 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is one of the most effective vulnerability detection techniques, widely used in practice. However, the performance of fuzzers may be limited by their inability to pass complicated checks, inappropriate mutation frequency, arbitrary mutation strategy, or the variability of the environment. In this paper, we present DeepFuzzer, an enhanced greybox fuzzer with qualified seed generation, balanced seed selection, and hybrid seed mutation. First, we use symbolic execution in a lightweight approach to generate qualified initial seeds which then guide the fuzzer through complex checks. Second, we apply a statistical seed selection algorithm to balance the mutation frequency between different seeds. Further, we develop a hybrid mutation strategy. The random and restricted mutation strategies are combined to maintain a dynamic balance between global exploration and deep search. We evaluate DeepFuzzer on the widely used benchmark Google fuzzer-test-suite which consists of real-world programs. Compared with AFL, AFLFast, FairFuzz, QSYM, and MOPT in the 24-hour experiment, DeepFuzzer discovers 30%, 240%, 102%, 147%, and 257% more unique crashes, executes 40%, 36%, 36%, 98%, and 15% more paths, and covers 37%, 34%, 34%, 101%, and 11% more branches, respectively. Furthermore, we present the practice of fuzzing a message middleware from Huawei with DeepFuzzer, and 9 new vulnerabilities are reported.

QSYM: A Practical Concolic Execution Engine Tailored for Hybrid Fuzzing (USENIX Security2018)

Abstract: Recently, hybrid fuzzing has been proposed to address the limitations of fuzzing and concolic execution by combining both approaches. The hybrid approach has shown its effectiveness in various synthetic benchmarks such as DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) binaries, but it still suffers from scaling to find bugs in complex, real-world software. We observed that the performance bottleneck of the existing concolic executor is the main limiting factor for its adoption beyond a small-scale study. To overcome this problem, we design a fast concolic execution engine, called QSYM, to support hybrid fuzzing. The key idea is to tightly integrate the symbolic emulation with the native execution using dynamic binary translation, making it possible to implement more fine-grained, so faster, instruction-level symbolic emulation. Additionally, QSYM loosens the strict soundness requirements of conventional concolic executors for better performance, yet takes advantage of a faster fuzzer for validation, providing unprecedented opportunities for performance optimizations, e.g., optimistically solving constraints and pruning uninteresting basic blocks. Our evaluation shows that QSYM does not just outperform state-of-the-art fuzzers (i.e., found 14× more bugs than VUzzer in the LAVA-M dataset, and outperformed Driller in 104 binaries out of 126), but also found 13 previously unknown security bugs in eight real-world programs like Dropbox Lepton, ffmpeg, and OpenJPEG, which have already been intensively tested by the state-of-the-art fuzzers, AFL and OSS-Fuzz.

Angora: Efficient Fuzzing by Principled Search (S&P 2018)

Abstract: Abstract-Fuzzing is a popular technique for finding software bugs. However, the performance of the state-of-the-art fuzzers leaves a lot to be desired. Fuzzers based on symbolic execution produce quality inputs but run slow, while fuzzers based on random mutation run fast but have difficulty producing quality inputs. We propose Angora, a new mutation-based fuzzer that outperforms the state-of-the-art fuzzers by a wide margin. The main goal of Angora is to increase branch coverage by solving path constraints without symbolic execution. To solve path constraints efficiently, we introduce several key techniques: scalable byte-level taint tracking, context-sensitive branch count, search based on gradient descent, and input length exploration. On the LAVA-M data set, Angora found almost all the injected bugs, found more bugs than any other fuzzer that we compared with, and found eight times as many bugs as the second-best fuzzer in the program who. Angora also found 103 bugs that the LAVA authors injected but could not trigger. We also tested Angora on eight popular, mature open source programs. Angora found 6, 52, 29, 40 and 48 new bugs in file, jhead, nm, objdump and size, respectively. We measured the coverage of Angora and evaluated how its key techniques contribute to its impressive performance.

SAFL: increasing and accelerating testing coverage with symbolic execution and guided fuzzing (ICSE 2018)

Abstract: Mutation-based fuzzing is a widely used software testing technique for bug and vulnerability detection, and the testing performance is greatly affected by the quality of initial seeds and the effectiveness of mutation strategy. In this paper, we present SAFL¹, an efficient fuzzing testing tool augmented with qualified seed generation and efficient coverage-directed mutation. First, symbolic execution is used in a lightweight approach to generate qualified initial seeds. Valuable explore directions are learned from the seeds, thus the later fuzzing process can reach deep paths in program state space earlier and easier. Moreover, we implement a fair and fast coverage-directed mutation algorithm. It helps the fuzzing process to exercise rare and deep paths with higher probability. We implement SAFL based on KLEE and AFL and conduct thoroughly repeated evaluations on real-world program benchmarks against state-of-the-art versions of AFL. After 24 hours, compared to AFL and AFLFast, it discovers 214% and 133% more unique crashes, covers 109% and 63% more paths and achieves 279% and 180% more covered branches. Video link: https://youtu.be/LkiFLNMBhVE

CAB-Fuzz: Practical Concolic Testing Techniques for COTS Operating Systems (Usenix Security2017)

Abstract: Discovering the security vulnerabilities of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) operating systems (OSes) is challenging because they not only are huge and complex, but also lack detailed debug information. Concolic testing, which generates all feasible inputs of a program by using symbolic execution and tests the program with the generated inputs, is one of the most promising approaches to solve this problem. Unfortunately, the state-of-the-art concolic testing tools do not scale well for testing COTS OSes because of state explosion. Indeed, they often fail to find a single bug (or crash) in COTS OSes despite their long execution time. In this paper, we propose CAB-FUZZ (Context-Aware and Boundary-focused), a practical concolic testing tool to quickly explore interesting paths that are highly likely triggering real bugs without debug information. First, CAB-FUZZ prioritizes the boundary states of arrays and loops, inspired by the fact that many vulnerabilities originate from a lack of proper boundary checks. Second, CAB-FUZZ exploits real programs interacting with COTS OSes to construct proper contexts to explore deep and complex kernel states without debug information. We applied CAB-FUZZ to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 and found 21 undisclosed unique crashes, including two local privilege escalation vulnerabilities (CVE2015-6098 and CVE-2016-0040) and one information disclosure vulnerability in a cryptography driver (CVE2016-7219). CAB-FUZZ found vulnerabilities that are non-trivial to discover; five vulnerabilities have existed for 14 years, and we could trigger them even in the initial version of Windows XP (August 2001).

Driller: Argumenting Fuzzing Through Selective Symbolic Execution (NDSS 2016)

Abstract: Memory corruption vulnerabilities are an everpresent risk in software, which attackers can exploit to obtain unauthorized access to confidential information. As products with access to sensitive data are becoming more prevalent, the number of potentially exploitable systems is also increasing, resulting in a greater need for automated software vetting tools. DARPA recently funded a competition, with millions of dollars in prize money, to further research focusing on automated vulnerability finding and patching, showing the importance of research in this area. Current techniques for finding potential bugs include static, dynamic, and concolic analysis systems, which each having their own advantages and disadvantages. A common limitation of systems designed to create inputs which trigger vulnerabilities is that they only find shallow bugs and struggle to exercise deeper paths in executables. We present Driller, a hybrid vulnerability excavation tool which leverages fuzzing and selective concolic execution in a complementary manner, to find deeper bugs. Inexpensive fuzzing is used to exercise compartments of an application, while concolic execution is used to generate inputs which satisfy the complex checks separating the compartments. By combining the strengths of the two techniques, we mitigate their weaknesses, avoiding the path explosion inherent in concolic analysis and the incompleteness of fuzzing. Driller uses selective concolic execution to explore only the paths deemed interesting by the fuzzer and to generate inputs for conditions that the fuzzer cannot satisfy. We evaluate Driller on 126 applications released in the qualifying event of the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge and show its efficacy by identifying the same number of vulnerabilities, in the same time, as the top-scoring team of the qualifying event.

Hybrid Fuzz Testing - Discovering Software Bugs via Fuzzing and Symbolic Execution (2012)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an effective method to find software bugs and vulnerabilities. One of the most useful techniques is the coverage-guided fuzzing, whose key element is the tracing code coverage information. Existing coverage-guided fuzzers generally use the number of basic blocks or edges explored to measure code coverage. Path-coverage can provide more accurate coverage information than a basic block and edge coverage. However, the number of paths grows exponentially as the size of a program increases. It is almost impossible to trace all the paths of a real-world application. In this paper, we propose a fuzzing solution named PathAFL, which assists a fuzzer by path identification. It can effectively identify and utilize the important h-path, which is a new path but whose edges have all been touched previously. First, PathAFL only inserts one assembly instruction to AFL’s original code to calculate the path hash, and uses a selective instrumentation strategy to reduce the tracing granularity of an execution path. Second, we design a fast filtering algorithm to choose higher weight paths from a large number of h-paths and add them to the seed queue. Third, both the seed selection algorithm and the power schedule are implemented based on the path weight. Finally we implemented PathAFL based on the popular fuzzer AFL and evaluated it on 10 well-fuzzed benchmark programs. In 24 hours, PathAFL explored 38% more paths and 9.3% more edges than AFL. Compared with CollAFL-x, the number is 25% and 5.9% correspondingly. Moreover, PathAFL found the more bugs on the LAVA-M dataset, even four unlisted bugs. The results show that PathAFL outperforms the previous fuzzers in terms of both code coverage and bug discovery. In well-tested programs, PathAFL found 8 new security bugs with 6 CVEs assigned.

Hybrid concolic testing (2007)

Abstract: We present hybrid concolic testing, an algorithm that interleaves random testing with concolic execution to obtain both a deep and a wide exploration of program state space. Our algorithm generates test inputs automatically by interleaving random testing until saturation with bounded exhaustive symbolic exploration of program points. It thus combines the ability of random search to reach deep program states quickly together with the ability of concolic testing to explore states in a neighborhood exhaustively. We have implemented our algorithm on top of CUTE and applied it to obtain better branch coverage for an editor implementation (VIM 5.7, 150K lines of code) as well as a data structure implementation in C. Our experiments suggest that hybrid concolic testing can handle large programs and provide, for the same testing budget, almost 4× the branch coverage than random testing and almost 2× that of concolic testing.

Coverage \ Path \ Magic bytes \ Checksum

PATA: Fuzzing with Path Aware Taint Analysis (S&P 2022)

Abstract: Taint analysis assists fuzzers in solving complex fuzzing constraints by inferring the influencing input bytes. Execution paths in real-world programs often reach loops, where constraints in these loops can be visited and recorded multiple times. Conventional taint analysis techniques experience difficulties when distinguishing between multiple occurrences of the same constraint. In this paper, we propose PATA, a fuzzer that implements path-aware taint analysis, i.e. one that distinguishes between multiple occurrences of the same variable based on the execution path information. PATA does so using the following steps. First, PATA identifies variables used in constraints and constructs the Representative Variable Sequence (RVS), consisting of occurrences of all representative constraint variables and their values. Next, PATA perturbs the input, matches its RVS with that of the original input, and looks for value changes to identify the influencing input bytes for each entry in the RVS. Finally, PATA mutates the corresponding input bytes to solve constraints in the given path.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of PATA over conventional taint analysis methods, we evaluated its performance on the benchmarks Google’s fuzzer-test-suite and LAVA-M against AFL, MOPT, TortoriseFuzz, VUzzer, Angora, REDQUEEN, and GREYONE. On Google’s fuzzer-test-suite, PATA outperformed these state-of-the-art fuzzers by 29%–1830% and 7%–87% in the number of unique paths found and basic blocks covered, respectively. More importantly, it found more bugs than the comparison fuzzers, including 17 unlisted ones. On LAVA-M, PATA performed the best out of all evaluated fuzzers and found 2602 bugs. On open-source projects, PATA found 40 previously unknown bugs, with 12 of them confirmed as CVEs.

OTA: An Operation-oriented Time Allocation Strategy for Greybox Fuzzing (SANER 2021)

Abstract: Coverage-based greybox fuzzing (CGF) has been widely studied and commonly used for software vulnerability detection. Existing CGF fuzzers fairly allocate execution time for each mutation operation to generate test cases. However, the fair-time-allocation strategy is revealed to be inefficient by our significant experimental observation that different operations have heterogeneous effectiveness on coverage. Those ineffective operations with vast test cases thus occupy the majority of limited runtime, reducing the opportunities for effective operations to explore more paths and find potential vulnerabilities.In this paper, we propose a novel operation-oriented time allocation strategy OTA, which dynamically allocates operation execution time in real time to cope with the effectiveness variation per operation. OTA has three distinguishing advantages: (1) the execution time per operation is novelly initialized on demand and program-dependent; (2) the execution time for each operation is dynamically weighted by its real-time effectiveness on exploring new coverage; (3) the determination of the execution time per operation is well controlled to achieve a quick convergence. Extensive experiments based on real-world programs and the LAVA-M dataset have been conducted to evaluate the path discovery and vulnerability detection abilities of OTA, which substantially outperforms 5 state-of-the-art fuzzers. In addition, OTA exposes 18 previously unknown vulnerabilities in 6 well-tested programs with 13 confirmed with new CVE IDs.

MaxAFL: Maximizing Code Coverage with a Gradient-Based Optimization Technique (Electronics 2020)

Abstract: Evolutionary fuzzers generally work well with typical software programs because of their simple algorithm. However, there is a limitation that some paths with complex constraints cannot be tested even after long execution. Fuzzers based on concolic execution have emerged to address this issue. The concolic execution fuzzers also have limitations in scalability. Recently, the gradient-based fuzzers that use a gradient to mutate inputs have been introduced. Gradient-based fuzzers can be applied to real-world programs and achieve high code coverage. However, there is a problem that the existing gradient-based fuzzers require heavyweight analysis or sufficient learning time. In this paper, we propose a new type of gradient-based fuzzer, MaxAFL, to overcome the limitations of existing gradient-based fuzzers. Our approach constructs an objective function through fine-grained static analysis. After constructing a well-made objective function, we can apply the gradient-based optimization algorithm. We use a modified gradient-descent algorithm to minimize our objective function and propose some probabilistic techniques to escape local optimum. We introduce an adaptive objective function which aims to explore various paths in the program. We implemented MaxAFL based on the original AFL. MaxAFL achieved increase of code coverage per time compared with three other fuzzers in six open-source Linux binaries. We also measured cumulative code coverage per total execution, and MaxAFL outperformed the other fuzzers in this metric. Finally, MaxAFL can also find more bugs than the other fuzzers.

PathAFL: Path-Coverage Assisted Fuzzing (ASIA CCS 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an effective method to find software bugs and vulnerabilities. One of the most useful techniques is the coverage-guided fuzzing, whose key element is the tracing code coverage information. Existing coverage-guided fuzzers generally use the the number of basic blocks or edges explored to measure code coverage. Path-coverage can provide more accurate coverage information than basic block and edge coverage. However, the number of paths grows exponentially as the size of a program increases. It is almost impossible to trace all the paths of a real-world application. In this paper, we propose a fuzzing solution named PathAFL, which assists a fuzzer by path identification. It can effectively identify and utilize the important h-path, which is a new path but whose edges have all been touched previously. First, PathAFL only inserts one assembly instruction to AFL’s original code to calculate the path hash, and uses a selective instrumentation strategy to reduce the tracing granularity of an execution path. Second, we design a fast filtering algorithm to choose higher weight paths from a large number of h-paths and add them to the seed queue. Third, both the seed selection algorithm and the power schedule are implemented based on the path weight. Finally we implemented PathAFL based on the popular fuzzer AFL and evaluated it on 10 well-fuzzed benchmark programs. In 24 hours, PathAFL explored 38% more paths and 9.3% more edges than AFL. Compared with CollAFL-x, the number is 25% and 5.9% correspondingly. Moreover, PathAFL found the more bugs on the LAVA-M dataset, even four unlisted bugs. The results show that PathAFL outperforms the previous fuzzers in terms of both code coverage and bug discovery. In well-tested programs, PathAFL found 8 new security bugs with 6 CVEs assigned.

Zeror: Speed Up Fuzzing with Coverage-sensitive Tracing and Scheduling (ASE 2020)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzzing is one of the most popular software testing techniques for vulnerability detection. While effective, current fuzzing methods suffer from significant performance penalty due to instrumentation overhead, which limits its practical use. Existing solutions improve the fuzzing speed by decreasing instrumentation overheads but sacrificing coverage accuracy, which results in unstable performance of vulnerability detection.

In this paper, we propose a coverage-sensitive tracing and scheduling framework Zeror that can improve the performance of existing fuzzers, especially in their speed and vulnerability detection. The Zeror is mainly made up of two parts: (1) a self-modifying tracing mechanism to provide a zero-overhead instrumentation for more effective coverage collection, and (2) a real-time scheduling mechanism to support adaptive switch between the zero-overhead instrumented binary and the fully instrumented binary for better vulnerability detection. In this way, Zeror is able to decrease collection overhead and preserve fine-grained coverage for guidance.

For evaluation, we implement a prototype of Zeror and evaluate it on Google fuzzer-test-suite, which consists of 24 widely-used applications. The results show that Zeror performs better than existing fuzzing speed-up frameworks such as Untracer and INSTRIM, improves the execution speed of the state-of-the-art fuzzers such as AFL and MOPT by 159.80%, helps them achieve better coverage (averagely 10.14% for AFL, 6.91% for MOPT) and detect vulnerabilities faster (averagely 29.00% for AFL, 46.99% for MOPT)

Not All Coverage Measurements Are Equal: Fuzzing by Coverage Accounting for Input Prioritization (NDSS 2020)

Abstract: Coverage-based fuzzing has been actively studied and widely adopted for finding vulnerabilities in real-world software applications. With code coverage, such as statement coverage and transition coverage, as the guidance of input mutation, coverage-based fuzzing can generate inputs that cover more code and thus find more vulnerabilities without prerequisite information such as input format. Current coverage-based fuzzing tools treat covered code equally. All inputs that contribute to new statements or transitions are kept for future mutation no matter what the statements or transitions are and how much they impact security. Although this design is reasonable from the perspective of software testing, which aims to full code coverage, it is inefficient for vulnerability discovery since that 1) current techniques are still inadequate to reach full coverage within a reasonable amount of time, and that 2) we always want to discover vulnerabilities early so that it can be patched promptly. Even worse, due to the non-discriminative code coverage treatment, current fuzzing tools suffer from recent anti-fuzzing techniques and become much less effective in finding real-world vulnerabilities.

To resolve the issue, we propose coverage accounting, an innovative approach that evaluates code coverage by security impacts. Based on the proposed metrics, we design a new scheme to prioritize fuzzing inputs and develop TortoiseFuzz, a greybox fuzzer for memory corruption vulnerabilities. We evaluated TortoiseFuzz on 30 real-world applications and compared it with 5 state-of-the-art greybox and hybrid fuzzers (AFL, AFLFast, FairFuzz, QSYM, and Angora). TortoiseFuzz outperformed all greybox fuzzers and most hybrid fuzzers. It also had comparative results for other hybrid fuzzers yet consumed much fewer resources. Additionally, TortoiseFuzz found 18 new real-world vulnerabilities and has got 8 new CVEs so far. We will open source TortoiseFuzz to foster future research.

Matryoshka: fuzzing deeply nested branches (CCS 2019)

Abstract: Greybox fuzzing has made impressive progress in recent years, evolving from heuristics-based random mutation to approaches for solving individual path constraints. However, they have difficulty solving path constraints that involve deeply nested conditional statements, which are common in image and video decoders, network packet analyzers, and checksum tools. We propose an approach for addressing this problem. First, we identify all the control flow-dependent conditional statements of the target conditional statement. Next, we select the data flow-dependent conditional statements. Finally, we use three strategies to find an input that satisfies all conditional statements simultaneously. We implemented this approach in a tool called Matryoshka and compared its effectiveness on 13 open source programs against other state-of-the-art fuzzers. Matryoshka found significantly more unique crashes than AFL, QSYM, and Angora. We manually classified those crashes into 41 unique new bugs, and obtained 12 CVEs. Our evaluation also uncovered the key technique contributing to Matryoshka’s impressive performance: it collects only the nesting constraints that may cause the target conditional statements unreachable, which greatly simplifies the constraints that it has to solve.

REDQUEEN: Fuzzing with Input-to-State Correspondence (NDSS2019)

Abstract: Automated software testing based on fuzzing has experienced a revival in recent years. Especially feedback-driven fuzzing has become well-known for its ability to efficiently perform randomized testing with limited input corpora. Despite a lot of progress, two common problems are magic numbers and (nested) checksums. Computationally expensive methods such as taint tracking and symbolic execution are typically used to overcome such roadblocks. Unfortunately, such methods often require access to source code, a rather precise description of the environment (e.g., behavior of library calls or the underlying OS), or the exact semantics of the platform’s instruction set. In this paper, we introduce a lightweight, yet very effective alternative to taint tracking and symbolic execution to facilitate and optimize state-of-the-art feedback fuzzing that easily scales to large binary applications and unknown environments. We observe that during the execution of a given program, parts of the input often end up directly (i.e., nearly unmodified) in the program state. This input-to-state correspondence can be exploited to create a robust method to overcome common fuzzing roadblocks in a highly effective and efficient manner. Our prototype implementation, called REDQUEEN, is able to solve magic bytes and (nested) checksum tests automatically for a given binary executable. Additionally, we show that our techniques outperform various state-of-the-art tools on a wide variety of targets across different privilege levels (kernel-space and userland) with no platform-specific code. REDQUEEN is the first method to find more than 100% of the bugs planted in LAVA-M across all targets. Furthermore, we were able to discover 65 new bugs and obtained 16 CVEs in multiple programs and OS kernel drivers. Finally, our evaluation demonstrates that REDQUEEN is fast, widely applicable and outperforms concurrent approaches by up to three orders of magnitude.

T-Fuzz: fuzzing by program transformation (S&P 2018)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a simple yet effective approach to discover software bugs utilizing randomly generated inputs. However, it is limited by coverage and cannot find bugs hidden in deep execution paths of the program because the randomly generated inputs fail complex sanity checks, e.g., checks on magic values, checksums, or hashes. To improve coverage, existing approaches rely on imprecise heuristics or complex input mutation techniques (e.g., symbolic execution or taint analysis) to bypass sanity checks. Our novel method tackles coverage from a different angle: by removing sanity checks in the target program. T-Fuzz leverages a coverage-guided fuzzer to generate inputs. Whenever the fuzzer can no longer trigger new code paths, a light-weight, dynamic tracing based technique detects the input checks that the fuzzer-generated inputs fail. These checks are then removed from the target program. Fuzzing then continues on the transformed program, allowing the code protected by the removed checks to be triggered and potential bugs discovered. Fuzzing transformed programs to find bugs poses two challenges: (1) removal of checks leads to over-approximation and false positives, and (2) even for true bugs, the crashing input on the transformed program may not trigger the bug in the original program. As an auxiliary post-processing step, T-Fuzz leverages a symbolic execution-based approach to filter out false positives and reproduce true bugs in the original program. By transforming the program as well as mutating the input, T-Fuzz covers more code and finds more true bugs than any existing technique. We have evaluated T-Fuzz on the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge dataset, LAVA-M dataset and 4 real-world programs (pngfix, tiffinfo, magick and pdftohtml). For the CGC dataset, T-Fuzz finds bugs in 166 binaries, Driller in 121, and AFL in 105. In addition, found 3 new bugs in previously-fuzzed programs and libraries.

FairFuzz: A Targeted Mutation Strategy for Increasing Greybox Fuzz Testing Coverage (ASE 2018)

Abstract: In recent years, fuzz testing has proven itself to be one of the most effective techniques for finding correctness bugs and security vulnerabilities in practice. One particular fuzz testing tool, American Fuzzy Lop (AFL), has become popular thanks to its ease-of-use and bug-finding power. However, AFL remains limited in the bugs it can find since it simply does not cover large regions of code. If it does not cover parts of the code, it will not find bugs there. We propose a two-pronged approach to increase the coverage achieved by AFL. First, the approach automatically identifies branches exercised by few AFL-produced inputs (rare branches), which often guard code that is empirically hard to cover by naively mutating inputs. The second part of the approach is a novel mutation mask creation algorithm, which allows mutations to be biased towards producing inputs hitting a given rare branch. This mask is dynamically computed during fuzz testing and can be adapted to other testing targets. We implement this approach on top of AFL in a tool named FairFuzz. We conduct evaluation on real-world programs against state-of-the-art versions of AFL. We find that on these programs FairFuzz achieves high branch coverage at a faster rate that state-of-the-art versions of AFL. In addition, on programs with nested conditional structure, it achieves sustained increases in branch coverage after 24 hours (average 10.6% increase). In qualitative analysis, we find that FairFuzz has an increased capacity to automatically discover keywords.

VUzzer: Application-aware Evolutionary Fuzzing (NDSS 2017)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an effective software testing technique to find bugs. Given the size and complexity of real-world applications, modern fuzzers tend to be either scalable, but not effective in exploring bugs that lie deeper in the execution, or capable of penetrating deeper in the application, but not scalable. In this paper, we present an application-aware evolutionary fuzzing strategy that does not require any prior knowledge of the application or input format. In order to maximize coverage and explore deeper paths, we leverage control- and data-flow features based on static and dynamic analysis to infer fundamental properties of the application. This enables much faster generation of interesting inputs compared to an application-agnostic approach. We implement our fuzzing strategy in VUzzer and evaluate it on three different datasets: DARPA Grand Challenge binaries (CGC), a set of real-world applications (binary input parsers), and the recently released LAVA dataset. On all of these datasets, VUzzer yields significantly better results than state-of-the-art fuzzers, by quickly finding several existing and new bugs.

Grammars \ Context-aware Fuzzing

Token-Level Fuzzing (WiSec 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing has become a commonly used approach to identifying bugs in complex, real-world programs. However, interpreters are notoriously difficult to fuzz effectively, as they expect highly structured inputs, which are rarely produced by most fuzzing mutations. For this class of programs, grammar-based fuzzing has been shown to be effective. Tools based on this approach can find bugs in the code that is executed after parsing the interpreter inputs, by following language-specific rules when generating and mutating test cases. Unfortunately, grammar-based fuzzing is often unable to discover subtle bugs associated with the parsing and handling of the language syntax. Additionally, if the grammar provided to the fuzzer is incomplete, or does not match the implementation completely, the fuzzer will fail to exercise important parts of the available functionality.

In this paper, we propose a new fuzzing technique, called Token-Level Fuzzing. Instead of applying mutations either at the byte level or at the grammar level, Token-Level Fuzzing applies mutations at the token level. Evolutionary fuzzers can leverage this technique to both generate inputs that are parsed successfully and generate inputs that do not conform strictly to the grammar. As a result, the proposed approach can find bugs that neither byte-level fuzzing nor grammar-based fuzzing can find. We evaluated Token-Level Fuzzing by modifying AFL and fuzzing four popular JavaScript engines, finding 29 previously unknown bugs, several of which could not be found with state-of-the-art byte-level and grammar-based fuzzers.

Extended grammar-based fuzzing algorithm for JavaScript Engines (2021)

Abstract: JavaScript engine security continues to be critical for user safety. Unfortunately, modern fuzzing algorithms cover only a small part of the entire engine. JavaScript engine requires highly structured input — JavaScript programs that are syntactically and semantically correct. The most of generated input struggle to pass syntax and semantic correctness checks. In this paper, we describe the extension of the grammar-based fuzzing algorithm. We propose a way of describing grammar for fuzzing using a set of JavaScript source codes. Grammars constructed with our method cover larger part of JavaScript language in comparison with grammars created by describing grammar rules. Another change of the basic algorithm is controlling the context in the mutation process. It allows filtering a lot of inputs that don’t give new results. Our experiments show that the improved algorithm has increased speed of finding new paths in the target program.

Gramatron: Effective Grammar-Aware Fuzzing (ISSTA 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzers aware of the input grammar can explore deeper program states using grammar-aware mutations. Existing grammar-aware fuzzers are ineffective at synthesizing complex bug triggers due to: (i) grammars introducing a sampling bias during input generation due to their structure, and (ii) the current mutation operators for parse trees performing localized small-scale changes. Gramatron uses grammar automatons in conjunction with aggressive mutation operators to synthesize complex bug triggers faster. We build grammar automatons to address the sampling bias. It restructures the grammar to allow for unbiased sampling from the input state space. We redesign grammar-aware mutation operators to be more aggressive, i.e., perform large-scale changes. Gramatron can consistently generate complex bug triggers in an efficient manner as compared to using conventional grammars with parse trees. Inputs generated from scratch by Gramatron have higher diversity as they achieve up to 24.2% more coverage relative to existing fuzzers. Gramatron makes input generation 98% faster and the input representations are 24% smaller. Our redesigned mutation operators are 6.4× more aggressive while still being 68% faster at performing these mutations. We evaluate Gramatron across three interpreters with 10 known bugs consisting of three complex bug triggers and seven simple bug triggers against two Nautilus variants. Gramatron finds all the complex bug triggers reliably and faster. For the simple bug triggers, Gramatron outperforms Nautilus four out of seven times. To demonstrate Gramatron’s effectiveness in the wild, we deployed Gramatron on three popular interpreters for a 10-day fuzzing campaign where it discovered 10 new vulnerabilities.

One Engine to Fuzz ‘em All: Generic Language Processor Testing with Semantic Validation (S&P 2021)

Abstract: Language processors, such as compilers and interpreters, are indispensable in building modern software. Errors in language processors can lead to severe consequences, like incorrect functionalities or even malicious attacks. However, it is not trivial to automatically test language processors to find bugs. Existing testing methods (or fuzzers) either fail to generate high-quality (i.e., semantically correct) test cases, or only support limited programming languages. In this paper, we propose POLYGLOT, a generic fuzzing framework that generates high-quality test cases for exploring processors of different programming languages. To achieve the generic applicability, POLYGLOT neutralizes the difference in syntax and semantics of programming languages with a uniform intermediate representation (IR). To improve the language validity, POLYGLOT performs constrained mutation and semantic validation to preserve syntactic correctness and fix semantic errors. We have applied POLYGLOT on 21 popular language processors of 9 programming languages, and identified 173 new bugs, 113 of which are fixed with 18 CVEs assigned. Our experiments show that POLYGLOT can support a wide range of programming languages, and outperforms existing fuzzers with up to 30x improvement in code coverage.

Growing A Test Corpus with Bonsai Fuzzing (ICSE 2021)

Abstract: This paper presents a coverage-guided grammar-based fuzzing technique for automatically generating a corpus of concise test inputs for programs such as compilers. We walk-through a case study of a compiler designed for education and the corresponding problem of generating meaningful test cases to provide to students. The prior state-of-the-art solution is a combination of fuzzing and test-case reduction techniques such as variants of delta-debugging. Our key insight is that instead of attempting to minimize convoluted fuzzer-generated test inputs, we can instead grow concise test inputs by construction using a form of iterative deepening. We call this approach Bonsai Fuzzing. Experimental results show that Bonsai Fuzzing can generate test corpora having inputs that are 16–45% smaller in size on average as compared to a fuzz-then-reduce approach, while achieving approximately the same code coverage and fault-detection capability.

Favocado: Fuzzing the Binding Code of JavaScript Engines Using Semantically Correct Test Cases (NDSS 2021)

Abstract: JavaScript runtime systems include some specialized programming interfaces, called binding layers. Binding layers translate data representations between JavaScript and unsafe low-level languages, such as C and C++, by converting data between different types. Due to the wide adoption of JavaScript (and JavaScript engines) in the entire computing ecosystem, discovering bugs in JavaScript binding layers is critical. Nonetheless, existing JavaScript fuzzers cannot adequately fuzz binding layers due to two major challenges: Generating syntactically and semantically correct test cases and reducing the size of the input space for fuzzing.

In this paper, we propose Favocado, a novel fuzzing approach that focuses on fuzzing binding layers of JavaScript runtime systems. Favocado can generate syntactically and semantically correct JavaScript test cases through the use of extracted semantic information and careful maintaining of execution states. This way, test cases that Favocado generates do not raise unintended runtime exceptions, which substantially increases the chance of triggering binding code. Additionally, exploiting a unique feature (relative isolation) of binding layers, Favocado significantly reduces the size of the fuzzing input space by splitting DOM objects into equivalence classes and focusing fuzzing within each equivalence class. We demonstrate the effectiveness of Favocado in our experiments and show that Favocado outperforms a stateof-the-art DOM fuzzer. Finally, during the evaluation, we find 61 previously unknown bugs in four JavaScript runtime systems (Adobe Acrobat Reader, Foxit PDF Reader, Chromium, and WebKit). 33 of these bugs are security vulnerabilities.

CMFuzz: context-aware adaptive mutation for fuzzers (Empirical Software Engineering 2021)

Abstract: Mutation-based fuzzing is a simple yet effective technique to discover bugs and security vulnerabilities in software. Given a set of well-formed initial seeds, mutation-based fuzzers continually generate interesting seeds by applying specific mutation strategy in order to maximize code coverage or the number of unique bugs explored at any point-in-time. However, existing fuzzers remain limited in the paths it could cover since it simply follows a uniform distribution to choose mutation operators. In this paper, we proposed a novel context-aware adaptive mutation scheme, namely CMFuzz, which utilizes a contextual bandit algorithm LinUCB to effectively choose optimal mutation operators for various seed files. To this end, CMFuzz dynamically extracts and encodes file characteristics, which allows mutation-based fuzzers to perform context-aware mutation. We apply this scheme on top of several state-of-the-art fuzzers, i.e., PTfuzz, AFL, and AFLFast, and implement CMFuzz-PT, CMFuzz-AFL, and CMFuzz-AFLFast, respectively. We conduct evaluation on 12 real-world open source applications and LAVA-M dataset against their counterparts. Extensive evaluations demonstrate that CMFuzz-based fuzzers achieve higher code coverage and find more crashes at a faster rate than their counterparts on most cases. Furthermore, we also utilize other mainstream bandit algorithms, e.g., Thompson Sample and epsilon-greedy, and implement Thompson-PT and Greedy-PT based on PTfuzz to examine the performance of proposed model. CMFuzz-PT significantly outperforms Thompson-PT especially in terms of unique crashes and paths, i.e., found 1.79× unique crashes and 1.29× unique paths on average. Compared to Greedy-PT, our approach still increases the amount of unique crashes and paths by 1.11× and 1.05×, respectively.

One Engine to Fuzz ’em All: Generic Language Processor Testing with Semantic Validation (ACSAC 2020)

Abstract: Language processors, such as compilers and interpreters, are indispensable in building modern software. Errors in language processors can lead to severe consequences, like incorrect functionalities or even malicious attacks. However, it is not trivial to automatically test language processors to find bugs. Existing testing methods (or fuzzers) either fail to generate high-quality (i.e., semantically correct) test cases, or only support limited programming languages.

In this paper, we propose POLYGLOT, a generic fuzzing framework that generates high-quality test cases for exploring processors of different programming languages. To achieve the generic applicability, POLYGLOT neutralizes the difference in syntax and semantics of programming languages with a uniform intermediate representation (IR). To improve the language validity, POLYGLOT performs constrained mutation and semantic validation to preserve syntactic correctness and fix semantic errors. We have applied POLYGLOT on 21 popular language processors of 9 programming languages, and identified 173 new bugs, 113 of which are fixed with 18 CVEs assigned. Our experiments show that POLYGLOT can support a wide range of programming languages, and outperforms existing fuzzers with up to 30× improvement in code coverage.

Generating Highly-structured Input Data by Combining Search-based Testing and Grammar-based Fuzzing (ASE 2020)

Abstract: Software testing is an important and time-consuming task that is often done manually. In the last decades, researchers have come up with techniques to generate input data (e.g., fuzzing) and automate the process of generating test cases (e.g., search-based testing). However, these techniques are known to have their own limitations: search-based testing does not generate highly-structured data; grammar-based fuzzing does not generate test case structures. To address these limitations, we combine these two techniques. By applying grammar-based mutations to the input data gathered by the search-based testing algorithm, it allows us to co-evolve both aspects of test case generation. We evaluate our approach, called G-EvoSuite, by performing an empirical study on 20 Java classes from the three most popular JSON parsers across multiple search budgets. Our results show that the proposed approach on average improves branch coverage for JSON related classes by 15% (with a maximum increase of 50%) without negatively impacting other classes.

Montage: A Neural Network Language Model-Guided JavaScript Engine Fuzzer (Usenix Security2020)

Abstract: JavaScript (JS) engine vulnerabilities pose significant security threats affecting billions of web browsers. While fuzzing is a prevalent technique for finding such vulnerabilities, there have been few studies that leverage the recent advances in neural network language models (NNLMs). In this paper, we present Montage, the first NNLM-guided fuzzer for finding JS engine vulnerabilities. The key aspect of our technique is to transform a JS abstract syntax tree (AST) into a sequence of AST subtrees that can directly train prevailing NNLMs. We demonstrate that Montage is capable of generating valid JS tests, and show that it outperforms previous studies in terms of finding vulnerabilities. Montage found 37 real-world bugs, including three CVEs, in the latest JS engines, demonstrating its efficacy in finding JS engine bugs.

Fuzzing JavaScript Engines with Aspect-preserving Mutation (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a practical, widely-deployed technique to find bugs in complex, real-world programs like JavaScript engines. We observed, however, that existing fuzzing approaches, either generative or mutational, fall short in fully harvesting high-quality input corpora such as known proof of concept (PoC) exploits or unit tests. Existing fuzzers tend to destruct subtle semantics or conditions encoded in the input corpus in order to generate new test cases because this approach helps in discovering new code paths of the program. Nevertheless, for JavaScript-like complex programs, such a conventional design leads to test cases that tackle only shallow parts of the complex codebase and fails to reach deep bugs effectively due to the huge input space.

In this paper, we advocate a new technique, called an aspect preserving mutation, that stochastically preserves the desirable properties, called aspects, that we prefer to be maintained across mutation. We demonstrate the aspect preservation with two mutation strategies, namely, structure and type preservation, in our fully-fledged JavaScript fuzzer, called DIE. Our evaluation shows that DIE’s aspect-preserving mutation is more effective in discovering new bugs (5.7× more unique crashes) and producing valid test cases (2.4× fewer runtime errors) than the state-ofthe-art JavaScript fuzzers. DIE newly discovered 48 high-impact bugs in ChakraCore, JavaScriptCore, and V8 (38 fixed with 12 CVEs assigned as of today). The source code of DIE is publicly available as an open-source project.

Language-Agnostic Generation of Compilable Test Programs (ICST 2020)

Abstract: Testing is an integral part of the development of compilers and other language processors. To automatically create large sets of test programs, random program generators, or fuzzers, have emerged. Unfortunately, existing approaches are either language-specific (and thus require a rewrite for each language) or may generate programs that violate rules of the respective programming language (which limits their usefulness). This work introduces *Smith, a language-agnostic framework for the generation of valid, compilable test programs. It takes as input an abstract attribute grammar that specifies the syntactic and semantic rules of a programming language. It then creates test programs that satisfy all these rules. By aggressively pruning the search space and keeping the construction as local as possible, *Smith can generate huge, complex test programs in short time. We present four case studies covering four real-world programming languages (C, Lua, SQL, and SMT-LIB 2) to show that *Smith is both efficient and effective, while being flexible enough to support programming languages that differ considerably. We found bugs in all four case studies. For example, *Smith detected 165 different crashes in older versions of GCC and LLVM. *Smith and the language grammars are available online.

Smart Greybox Fuzzing (TSE 2019)

Abstract: Coverage-based greybox fuzzing (CGF) is one of the most successful approaches for automated vulnerability detection. Given a seed file (as a sequence of bits), a CGF randomly flips, deletes or copies some bits to generate new files. CGF iteratively constructs (and fuzzes) a seed corpus by retaining those generated files which enhance coverage. However, random bitflips are unlikely to produce valid files (or valid chunks in files), for applications processing complex file formats. In this work, we introduce smart greybox fuzzing (SGF) which leverages a high-level structural representation of the seed file to generate new files. We define innovative mutation operators that work on the virtual file structure rather than on the bit level which allows SGF to explore completely new input domains while maintaining file validity. We introduce a novel validity-based power schedule that enables SGF to spend more time generating files that are more likely to pass the parsing stage of the program, which can expose vulnerabilities much deeper in the processing logic. Our evaluation demonstrates the effectiveness of SGF. On several libraries that parse complex chunk-based files, our tool AFLSMART achieves substantially more branch coverage (up to 87% improvement), and exposes more vulnerabilities than baseline AFL. Our tool AFLSMART has discovered 42 zero-day vulnerabilities in widely-used, well-tested tools and libraries; so far 17 CVEs were assigned.

Semantic Fuzzing with Zest (ISSTA 2019)

Abstract: Programs expecting structured inputs often consist of both a syntactic analysis stage, which parses raw input, and a semantic analysis stage, which conducts checks on the parsed input and executes the core logic of the program. Generator-based testing tools in the lineage of QuickCheck are a promising way to generate random syntactically valid test inputs for these programs. We present Zest, a technique which automatically guides QuickCheck-like randominput generators to better explore the semantic analysis stage of test programs. Zest converts random-input generators into deterministic parametric generators. We present the key insight that mutations in the untyped parameter domain map to structural mutations in the input domain. Zest leverages program feedback in the form of code coverage and input validity to perform feedback-directed parameter search. We evaluate Zest against AFL and QuickCheck on five Java programs: Maven, Ant, BCEL, Closure, and Rhino. Zest covers 1.03x-2.81x as many branches within the benchmarks semantic analysis stages as baseline techniques. Further, we find 10 new bugs in the semantic analysis stages of these benchmarks. Zest is the most effective technique in finding these bugs reliably and quickly, requiring at most 10 minutes on average to find each bug.

Field-aware Evolutionary Fuzzing Based on Input Specifications and Vulnerability Metrics (2019)

Abstract: Evolutionary fuzzing technology based on genetic algorithm has become one of the most effective vulnerability discovery techniques due to its fast and scalable advantages. How to effectively mutate the seed input plays a crucial role in improving the efficiency of the fuzzing. A good mutation strategy can increase code coverage and vulnerability triggering probability. Existing fuzzing tools generally focus on how to mutate smartly to improve code coverage to find more vulnerabilities (such as passing the branch with magic bytes), but they still face two challenges which substantially reduces the efficiency of vulnerability discovery. First, the input space is huge and current fuzzers are not aware of the input format, resulting in many mutated inputs are invalid. Second, they believe all bytes are equal and mutate them sequentially, wasting lots of time testing some uninteresting bytes. To this end, this paper proposes a field-aware mutation strategy that can find more vulnerabilities by generating fewer but more effective inputs. Specifically, we extract the field and type information of the seed input through the existing input specifications to ensure that the mutation is performed in field level instead of byte level and the optimal mutation strategy is selected. At the same time, the input fields are scored by code assessment based on vulnerability metrics, thus the more important fields (i.e., fields that are more likely to trigger the vulnerability) are prioritized to be mutated. We implemented a prototype tool, FaFuzzer, and evaluated it on two different datasets consisting of a variety of real-world applications. Experiments show that our field-aware strategy can find more vulnerabilities with fewer inputs than existing tools, while maintaining high code coverage. We found many unknown bugs in five widely used real-world applications and reported them to the relevant vendors.

Parser-Directed Fuzzing (PLDI 2019)

Abstract: To be effective, software test generation needs to well cover the space of possible inputs. Traditional fuzzing generates large numbers of random inputs, which however are unlikely to contain keywords and other specific inputs of non-trivial input languages. Constraint-based test generation solves conditions of paths leading to uncovered code, but fails on programs with complex input conditions because of path explosion. In this paper, we present a test generation technique specifically directed at input parsers. We systematically produce inputs for the parser and track comparisons made; after every rejection, we satisfy the comparisons leading to rejection. This approach effectively covers the input space: Evaluated on five subjects, from CSV files to JavaScript, our pFuzzer prototype covers more tokens than both random-based and constraint-based approaches, while requiring no symbolic analysis and far fewer tests than random fuzzers.

GRIMOIRE: Synthesizing Structure while Fuzzing (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: In the past few years, fuz­zing has re­cei­ved si­gni­fi­cant at­ten­ti­on from the re­se­arch com­mu­ni­ty. Howe­ver, most of this at­ten­ti­on was di­rec­ted towards pro­grams wi­thout a de­di­ca­ted par­sing stage. In such cases, fuz­zers which le­ver­a­ge the input struc­tu­re of a pro­gram can achie­ve a si­gni­fi­cant­ly hig­her code co­ver­a­ge com­pa­red to tra­di­tio­nal fuz­zing ap­proa­ches. This ad­van­ce­ment in co­ver­a­ge is achie­ved by ap­p­ly­ing lar­ge-sca­le mu­ta­ti­ons in the ap­p­li­ca­ti­on’s input space. Howe­ver, this im­pro­ve­ment comes at the cost of re­qui­ring ex­pert do­main know­ledge, as these fuz­zers de­pend on struc­tu­re input spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons (e.g., gram­mars). Gram­mar in­fe­rence, a tech­ni­que which can au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly ge­ne­ra­te such gram­mars for a given pro­gram, can be used to ad­dress this short­co­ming. Such tech­ni­ques usual­ly infer a pro­gram’s gram­mar in a pre-pro­ces­sing step and can miss im­portant struc­tu­res that are un­co­ver­ed only later du­ring nor­mal fuz­zing. In this paper, we pre­sent the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­ti­on of GRI­MOIRE, a fully au­to­ma­ted co­ver­a­ge-gui­ded fuz­zer which works wi­thout any form of human in­ter­ac­tion or pre-con­fi­gu­ra­ti­on; yet, it is still able to ef­fi­ci­ent­ly test pro­grams that ex­pect high­ly struc­tu­red in­puts. We achie­ve this by per­for­ming lar­ge-sca­le mu­ta­ti­ons in the pro­gram input space using gram­mar-li­ke com­bi­na­ti­ons to syn­the­si­ze new high­ly struc­tu­red in­puts wi­thout any pre-pro­ces­sing step. Our eva­lua­ti­on shows that GRI­MOIRE out­per­forms other co­ver­a­ge-gui­ded fuz­zers when fuz­zing pro­grams with high­ly struc­tu­red in­puts. Fur­ther­mo­re, it im­pro­ves upon exis­ting gram­mar-ba­sed co­ver­a­ge-gui­ded fuz­zers. Using GRI­MOIRE, we iden­ti­fied 19 dis­tinct me­mo­ry cor­rup­ti­on bugs in re­al-world pro­grams and ob­tained 11 new CVEs.

SLF: Fuzzing without Valid Seed Inputs (ICSE 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an important technique to detect software bugs and vulnerabilities. It works by mutating a small set of seed inputs to generate a large number of new inputs. Fuzzers’ performance often substantially degrades when valid seed inputs are not available. Although existing techniques such as symbolic execution can generate seed inputs from scratch, they have various limitations hindering their applications in real-world complex software without source code. In this paper, we propose a novel fuzzing technique that features the capability of generating valid seed inputs. It piggy-backs on AFL to identify input validity checks and the input fields that have impact on such checks. It further classifies these checks according to their relations to the input. Such classes include arithmetic relation, object offset, data structure length and so on. A multi-goal search algorithm is developed to apply class specific mutations in order to satisfy inter-dependent checks all together. We evaluate our technique on 20 popular benchmark programs collected from other fuzzing projects and the Google fuzzer test suite, and compare it with existing fuzzers AFL and AFLFast, symbolic execution engines KLEE and S2E, and a hybrid tool Driller that combines fuzzing with symbolic execution. The results show that our technique is highly effective and efficient, out-performing the other tools.

Superion: Grammar-Aware Greybox Fuzzing (ICSE 2019)

Abstract: In recent years, coverage-based greybox fuzzing has proven itself to be one of the most effective techniques for finding security bugs in practice. Particularly, American Fuzzy Lop (AFL for short) is deemed to be a great success in fuzzing relatively simple test inputs. Unfortunately, when it meets structured test inputs such as XML and JavaScript, those grammar-blind trimming and mutation strategies in AFL hinder the effectiveness and efficiency. To this end, we propose a grammar-aware coverage-based grey-box fuzzing approach to fuzz programs that process structured inputs. Given the grammar (which is often publicly available) of test inputs, we introduce a grammar-aware trimming strategy to trim test inputs at the tree level using the abstract syntax trees (ASTs) of parsed test inputs. Further, we introduce two grammar-aware mutation strategies (i.e., enhanced dictionary-based mutation and tree-based mutation). Specifically, tree-based mutation works via replacing subtrees using the ASTs of parsed test inputs. Equipped with grammar-awareness, our approach can carry the fuzzing exploration into width and depth. We implemented our approach as an extension to AFL, named Superion; and evaluated the effectiveness of Superion on real-life large-scale programs (a XML engine libplist and three JavaScript engines WebKit, Jerryscript and ChakraCore). Our results have demonstrated that Superion can improve the code coverage (i.e., 16.7% and 8.8% in line and function coverage) and bug-finding capability (i.e., 30 new bugs, among which we discovered 21 new vulnerabilities with 16 CVEs assigned and 3.2K USD bug bounty rewards received) over AFL and jsfunfuzz.

ProFuzzer: On-the-fly Input Type Probing for Better Zero-day Vulnerability Discovery (S&P 2019)

Abstract: Existing mutation based fuzzers tend to randomly mutate the input of a program without understanding its underlying syntax and semantics. In this paper, we propose a novel on-the-fly probing technique (called ProFuzzer) that automatically recovers and understands input fields of critical importance to vulnerability discovery during a fuzzing process and intelligently adapts the mutation strategy to enhance the chance of hitting zero-day targets. Since such probing is transparently piggybacked to the regular fuzzing, no prior knowledge of the input specification is needed. During fuzzing, individual bytes are first mutated and their fuzzing results are automatically analyzed to link those related together and identify the type for the field connecting them; these bytes are further mutated together following type-specific strategies, which substantially prunes the search space. We define the probe types generally across all applications, thereby making our technique application agnostic. Our experiments on standard benchmarks and real-world applications show that ProFuzzer substantially outperforms AFL and its optimized version AFLFast, as well as other state-of-art fuzzers including VUzzer, Driller and QSYM. Within two months, it exposed 42 zero-days in 10 intensively tested programs, generating 30 CVEs.

CodeAlchemist: Semantics-Aware Code Generation to Find Vulnerabilities in JavaScript Engines (NDSS 2019)

Abstract: JavaScript engines are an attractive target for attackers due to their popularity and flexibility in building exploits. Current state-of-the-art fuzzers for finding JavaScript engine vulnerabilities focus mainly on generating syntactically correct test cases based on either a predefined context-free grammar or a trained probabilistic language model. Unfortunately, syntactically correct JavaScript sentences are often semantically invalid at runtime. Furthermore, statically analyzing the semantics of JavaScript code is challenging due to its dynamic nature: JavaScript code is generated at runtime, and JavaScript expressions are dynamically-typed. To address this challenge, we propose a novel test case generation algorithm that we call semantics-aware assembly, and implement it in a fuzz testing tool termed CodeAlchemist. Our tool can generate arbitrary JavaScript code snippets that are both semantically and syntactically correct, and it effectively yields test cases that can crash JavaScript engines. We found numerous vulnerabilities of the latest JavaScript engines with CodeAlchemist and reported them to the vendors.

NAUTILUS: Fishing for Deep Bugs with Grammars (NDSS 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a well-known method for efficiently identifying bugs in programs.Unfortunately, when fuzzing targets that require highly-structured inputs such as interpreters, many fuzzing methods struggle to pass the syntax checks. More specifically, interpreters often process inputs in multiple stages: first syntactic, then semantic correctness is checked. Only if these checks are passed, the interpreted code gets executed. This prevents fuzzers from executing ``deeper’’ — and hence potentially more interesting — code. Typically two valid inputs that lead to the execution of different features in the target application require too many mutations for simple mutation-based fuzzers to discover: making small changes like bit flips usually only leads to the execution of error paths in the parsing engine. So-called grammar fuzzers are able to pass the syntax checks by using Context-Free Grammars. Using feedback can significantly increase the efficiency of fuzzing engines. Hence, it is commonly used in state-of-the-art mutational fuzzers that do not use grammars. Yet, grammar fuzzers do not make use of code coverage, i.e., they do not know whether any input triggers new functionality or not.

In this paper, we propose NAUTILUS, a method to efficiently fuzz programs that require highly-structured inputs by combining the use of grammars with the use of code coverage feedback. This allows us to recombine aspects of interesting inputs that were learned individually, and to dramatically increase the probability that any generated input will be accepted by the parser. We implemented a proof-of-concept fuzzer that we tested on multiple targets, including ChakraCore (the JavaScript engine of Microsoft Edge), PHP, mruby, and Lua. NAUTILUS identified multiple bugs in all of the targets: Seven in mruby, three in PHP, two in ChakraCore, and one in Lua. Reporting these bugs was awarded with a sum of 2600 USD and 6 CVEs were assigned. Our experiments show that combining context-free grammars and feedback-driven fuzzing significantly outperforms state-of-the-art approaches like American Fuzzy Lop (AFL) by an order of magnitude and grammar fuzzers by more than a factor of two when measuring code coverage.

TIFF: Using Input Type Inference To Improve Fuzzing (ACSAC 2018)

Abstract: Developers commonly use fuzzing techniques to hunt down all manner of memory corruption vulnerabilities during the testing phase. Irrespective of the fuzzer, input mutation plays a central role in providing adequate code coverage, as well as in triggering bugs. However, each class of memory corruption bugs requires a different trigger condition. While the goal of a fuzzer is to find bugs, most existing fuzzers merely approximate this goal by targeting their mutation strategies toward maximizing code coverage.

In this work, we present a new mutation strategy that maximizes the likelihood of triggering memory-corruption bugs by generating fewer, but better inputs. In particular, our strategy achieves bug- directed mutation by inferring the type of the input bytes. To do so, it tags each offset of the input with a basic type (e.g., 32-bit integer, string, array etc.), while deriving mutation rules for specific classes of bugs, We infer types by means of in-memory data-structure identification and dynamic taint analysis, and implement our novel mutation strategy in a fully functional fuzzer which we call TIFF (Type Inference-based Fuzzing Framework). Our evaluation on real-world applications shows that type-based fuzzing triggers bugs much earlier than existing solutions, while maintaining high code coverage. For example, on several real-world applications and libraries (e.g., poppler, mpg123 etc.), we find real bugs (with known CVEs) in almost half of the time and upto an order of magnitude fewer inputs than state-of-the-art fuzzers.

Skyfire: Data-Driven Seed Generation for Fuzzing (S&P 2017)

Abstract: Programs that take highly-structured files as inputs normally process inputs in stages: syntax parsing, semantic checking, and application execution. Deep bugs are often hidden in the application execution stage, and it is non-trivial to automatically generate test inputs to trigger them. Mutation-based fuzzing generates test inputs by modifying well-formed seed inputs randomly or heuristically. Most inputs are rejected at the early syntax parsing stage. Differently, generation-based fuzzing generates inputs from a specification (e.g., grammar). They can quickly carry the fuzzing beyond the syntax parsing stage. However, most inputs fail to pass the semantic checking (e.g., violating semantic rules), which restricts their capability of discovering deep bugs. In this paper, we propose a novel data-driven seed generation approach, named Skyfire, which leverages the knowledge in the vast amount of existing samples to generate well-distributed seed inputs for fuzzing programs that process highly-structured inputs. Skyfire takes as inputs a corpus and a grammar, and consists of two steps. The first step of Skyfire learns a probabilistic context-sensitive grammar (PCSG) to specify both syntax features and semantic rules, and then the second step leverages the learned PCSG to generate seed inputs. We fed the collected samples and the inputs generated by Skyfire as seeds of AFL to fuzz several open-source XSLT and XML engines (i.e., Sablotron, libxslt, and libxml2). The results have demonstrated that Skyfire can generate well-distributed inputs and thus significantly improve the code coverage (i.e., 20% for line coverage and 15% for function coverage on average) and the bug-finding capability of fuzzers. We also used the inputs generated by Skyfire to fuzz the closed-source JavaScript and rendering engine of Internet Explorer 11. Altogether, we discovered 19 new memory corruption bugs (among which there are 16 new vulnerabilities and received 33.5k USD bug bounty rewards) and 32 denial-of-service bugs.

Exploit Generation

ETHPLOIT: From Fuzzing to Efficient Exploit Generation against Smart Contracts (SANER2020)

Abstract: Smart contracts, programs running on blockchain systems, leverage diverse decentralized applications (DApps). Unfortunately, well-known smart contract platforms, Ethereum for example, face serious security problems. Exploits to contracts may cause enormous financial losses, which emphasize the importance of smart contract testing. However, current exploit generation tools have difficulty to solve hard constraints in execution paths and cannot simulate the blockchain behaviors very well. These problems cause a loss of coverage and accuracy of exploit generation.

To overcome the problems, we design and implement ETHPLOIT, a smart contract exploit generator based on fuzzing. ETHPLOIT adopts static taint analysis to generate exploit targeted transaction sequences, a dynamic seed strategy to pass hard constraints and an instrumented Ethereum Virtual Machine to simulate blockchain behaviors. We evaluate ETHPLOIT on 45,308 smart contracts and discovered 554 exploitable contracts. ETHPLOIT automatically generated 644 exploits without any false positive and 306 of them cannot be generated by previous exploit generation tools.

Gollum: Modular and Greybox Exploit Generation for Heap Overflows in Interpreters (CCS 2019)

Abstract: We present the first approach to automatic exploit generation for heap overflows in interpreters. It is also the first approach to exploit generation in any class of program that integrates a solution for automatic heap layout manipulation. At the core of the approach is a novel method for discovering exploit primitives—inputs to the target program that result in a sensitive operation, such as a function call or a memory write, utilizing attacker-injected data. To produce an exploit primitive from a heap overflow vulnerability, one has to discover a target data structure to corrupt, ensure an instance of that data structure is adjacent to the source of the overflow on the heap, and ensure that the post-overflow corrupted data is used in a manner desired by the attacker. Our system addresses all three tasks in an automatic, greybox, and modular manner. Our implementation is called GOLLUM, and we demonstrate its capabilities by producing exploits from 10 unique vulnerabilities in the PHP and Python interpreters, 5 of which do not have existing public exploits.

From proof-of-concept to exploitable (Cybersecurity 2019)

Abstract: Exploitability assessment of vulnerabilities is important for both defenders and attackers. The ultimate way to assess the exploitability is crafting a working exploit. However, it usually takes tremendous hours and significant manual efforts. To address this issue, automated techniques can be adopted. Existing solutions usually explore in depth the crashing paths, i.e., paths taken by proof-of-concept (PoC) inputs triggering vulnerabilities, and assess exploitability by finding exploitable states along the paths. However, exploitable states do not always exist in crashing paths. Moreover, existing solutions heavily rely on symbolic execution and are not scalable in path exploration and exploit generation.

In this paper, we propose a novel solution to generate exploit for userspace programs or facilitate the process of crafting a kernel UAF exploit. Technically, we utilize oriented fuzzing to explore diverging paths from vulnerability point. For userspace programs, we adopt a control-flow stitching solution to stitch crashing paths and diverging paths together to generate exploit. For kernel UAF, we leverage a lightweight symbolic execution to identify, analyze and evaluate the system calls valuable and useful for exploiting vulnerabilities.

We have developed a prototype system and evaluated it on a set of 19 CTF (capture the flag) programs and 15 realworld Linux kernel UAF vulnerabilities. Experiment results showed it could generate exploit for most of the userspace test set, and it could also facilitate security mitigation bypassing and exploitability evaluation for kernel test set.

Revery: From Proof-of-Concept to Exploitable (CCS 2018)

Abstract: Automatic exploit generation is an open challenge. Existing solutions usually explore in depth the crashing paths, i.e., paths taken by proof-of-concept (POC) inputs triggering vulnerabilities, and generate exploits when exploitable states are found along the paths. However, exploitable states do not always exist in crashing paths. Moreover, existing solutions heavily rely on symbolic execution and are not scalable in path exploration and exploit generation. In addition, few solutions could exploit heap-based vulnerabilities. In this paper, we propose a new solution revery to search for exploitable states in paths diverging from crashing paths, and generate control-flow hijacking exploits for heap-based vulnerabilities. It adopts three novel techniques:(1) a digraph to characterize a vulnerability’s memory layout and its contributor instructions;(2) a fuzz solution to explore diverging paths, which have similar memory layouts as the crashing paths, in order to search more exploitable states and generate corresponding diverging inputs;(3) a stitch solution to stitch crashing paths and diverging paths together, and synthesize EXP inputs able to trigger both vulnerabilities and exploitable states. We have developed a prototype of revery based on the binary analysis engine angr, and evaluated it on a set of 19 real world CTF (capture the flag) challenges. Experiment results showed that it could generate exploits for 9 (47%) of them, and generate EXP inputs able to trigger exploitable states for another 5 (26%) of them.

SemFuzz: Semantics-based Automatic Generation of Proof-of-Concept Exploits (CCS 2017)

Abstract: Patches and related information about software vulnerabilities are often made available to the public, aiming to facilitate timely fixes. Unfortunately, the slow paces of system updates (30 days on average) often present to the attackers enough time to recover hidden bugs for attacking the unpatched systems. Making things worse is the potential to automatically generate exploits on input-validation flaws through reverse-engineering patches, even though such vulnerabilities are relatively rare (e.g., 5% among all Linux kernel vulnerabilities in last few years). Less understood, however, are the implications of other bug-related information (e.g., bug descriptions in CVE), particularly whether utilization of such information can facilitate exploit generation, even on other vulnerability types that have never been automatically attacked. In this paper, we seek to use such information to generate proof-of-concept (PoC) exploits for the vulnerability types never automatically attacked. Unlike an input validation flaw that is often patched by adding missing sanitization checks, fixing other vulnerability types is more complicated, usually involving replacement of the whole chunk of code. Without understanding of the code changed, automatic exploit becomes less likely. To address this challenge, we present SemFuzz, a novel technique leveraging vulnerability-related text (e.g., CVE reports and Linux git logs) to guide automatic generation of PoC exploits. Such an end-to-end approach is made possible by natural-language processing (NLP) based information extraction and a semantics-based fuzzing process guided by such information. Running over 112 Linux kernel flaws reported in the past five years, SemFuzz successfully triggered 18 of them, and further discovered one zero-day and one undisclosed vulnerabilities. These flaws include use-after-free, memory corruption, information leak, etc., indicating that more complicated flaws can also be automatically attacked. This finding calls into question the way vulnerability-related information is shared today.

ExploitMeter: Combining Fuzzing with Machine Learning for Automated Evaluation of Software Exploitability (PAC 2017)

Abstract: Exploitable software vulnerabilities pose severe threats to its information security and privacy. Although a great amount of efforts have been dedicated to improving software security, research on quantifying software exploitability is still in its infancy. In this work, we propose ExploitMeter, a fuzzing-based framework of quantifying software exploitability that facilitates decision-making for software assurance and cyber insurance. Designed to be dynamic, efficient and rigorous, ExploitMeter integrates machine learning-based prediction and dynamic fuzzing tests in a Bayesian manner. Using 100 Linux applications, we conduct extensive experiments to evaluate the performance of ExploitMeter in a dynamic environment.

Parallel / Ensemble Fuzzing

Towards Systematic and Dynamic Task Allocation for Collaborative Parallel Fuzzing (ASE 2021 NIER)

Abstract: Parallel coverage-guided greybox fuzzing is the most common setup for vulnerability discovery at scale. However, so far it has received little attention from the research community compared to single-mode fuzzing, leaving open several problems particularly in its task allocation strategies. Current approaches focus on managing micro tasks, at the seed input level, and their task division algorithms are either ad-hoc or static. In this paper, we leverage research on graph partitioning and search algorithms to propose a systematic and dynamic task allocation solution that works at the macro-task level. First, we design an attributed graph to capture both the program structures (e.g., program call graph) and fuzzing information (e.g., branch hit counts, bug discovery probability). Second, our graph partitioning algorithm divides the global program search space into sub-search-spaces. Finally our search algorithm prioritizes these sub-search-spaces (i.e., tasks) and explores them to maximize code coverage and number of bugs found. The results are collected to update the graph and guide further iterations of partitioning and exploration. We implemented a prototype tool called AFLTeam. In our preliminary experiments on well-tested benchmarks, AFLTeam achieved higher code coverage (up to 16.4% branch coverage improvement) compared to the default parallel mode of AFL and discovered 2 zero-day bugs in FFmpeg and JasPer toolkits.

CollabFuzz: A Framework for Collaborative Fuzzing (EuroSec 2021)

Abstract: In the recent past, there has been lots of work on improving fuzz testing. In prior work, EnFuzz showed that by sharing progress among different fuzzers, they can perform better than the sum of their parts. In this paper, we continue this line of work and present CollabFuzz, a collaborative fuzzing framework allowing multiple different fuzzers to collaborate under an informed scheduling policy based on a number of central analyses. More specifically, CollabFuzz is a generic framework that allows a user to express different test case scheduling policies, such as the collaborative approach presented by EnFuzz. CollabFuzz can control which tests cases are handed out to what fuzzer and allows the orchestration of different fuzzers across the network. Furthermore, it allows the centralized analysis of the test cases generated by the various fuzzers under its control, allowing to implement scheduling policies based on the results of arbitrary program (e.g., data-flow) analysis.

Improving Web Application Vulnerability Detection Leveraging Ensemble Fuzzing (ENASE 2021)

Abstract: The vast majority of online services we use nowadays provide their web application to the users. The correctness of the source code of these applications is crucial to prevent attackers from exploiting its vulnerabilities, leading to severe consequences like the disclosure of sensitive information or the degradation of the availability of the application. Currently, multiple existent solutions analyse and detect vulnerabilities in the source code. Attackers, however, do not usually have access to the source code and must work with the information that is made public. Their goals are clear – exploit vulnerabilities without accessing the code –, and they resort of black-box fuzzing tools to achieve such. In this paper, we propose an ensemble fuzzing approach to check the correctness of the web applications from the point of view of an attacker and, in a posterior phase, analyse the source code to correlate with the collected information. The approach focuses first on the quality of fuzzers’ crawlers and afterwards on fuzzers capabilities of exploiting the results of all crawlers between them, in order to provide better coverage and precision in the detection of web vulnerabilities. Our preliminary results show that the ensemble performs better than fuzzers individually.

Cupid: Automatic Fuzzer Selection for Collaborative Fuzzing (ACSAC 2020)

Abstract: Combining the strengths of individual fuzzing methods is an appealing idea to find software faults more efficiently, especially when the computing budget is limited. In prior work, EnFuzz introduced the idea of ensemble fuzzing and devised three heuristics to classify properties of fuzzers in terms of diversity. Based on these heuristics, the authors manually picked a combination of different fuzzers that collaborate.

In this paper, we generalize this idea by collecting and applying empirical data from single, isolated fuzzer runs to automatically identify a set of fuzzers that complement each other when executed collaboratively. To this end, we present Cupid, a collaborative fuzzing framework allowing automated, data-driven selection of multiple complementary fuzzers for parallelized and distributed fuzzing. We evaluate the automatically selected target-independent combination of fuzzers by Cupid on Google’s fuzzer-test-suite, a collection of real-world binaries, as well as on the synthetic Lava-M dataset. We find that Cupid outperforms two expert-guided, targetspecific and hand-picked combinations on Google’s fuzzer-test-suite in terms of branch coverage, and improves bug finding on Lava-M by 10%. Most importantly, we improve the latency for obtaining 95% and 99% of the coverage by 90% and 64%, respectively. Furthermore, Cupid reduces the amount of CPU hours needed to find a high-performing combination of fuzzers by multiple orders of magnitude compared to an exhaustive evaluation.

EnFuzz: Ensemble Fuzzing with Seed Synchronization among Diverse Fuzzers (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is widely used for software vulnerability detection. There are various kinds of fuzzers with different fuzzing strategies, and most of them perform well on their targets. However, in industry practice and empirical study, the performance and generalization ability of those well-designed fuzzing strategies are challenged by the complexity and diversity of real-world applications. In this paper, inspired by the idea of ensemble learning, we first propose an ensemble fuzzing approach EnFuzz, that integrates multiple fuzzing strategies to obtain better performance and generalization ability than that of any constituent fuzzer alone. First, we define the diversity of the base fuzzers and choose those most recent and well-designed fuzzers as base fuzzers. Then, EnFuzz ensembles those base fuzzers with seed synchronization and result integration mechanisms. For evaluation, we implement EnFuzz , a prototype basing on four strong open-source fuzzers (AFL, AFLFast, AFLGo, FairFuzz), and test them on Google’s fuzzing test suite, which consists of widely used real-world applications. The 24-hour experiment indicates that, with the same resources usage, these four base fuzzers perform variously on different applications, while EnFuzz shows better generalization ability and always outperforms others in terms of path coverage, branch coverage and crash discovery. Even compared with the best cases of AFL, AFLFast, AFLGo and FairFuzz, EnFuzz discovers 26.8%, 117%, 38.8% and 39.5% more unique crashes, executes 9.16%, 39.2%, 19.9% and 20.0% more paths and covers 5.96%, 12.0%, 21.4% and 11.1% more branches respectively.

PAFL: Extend FuzzingOptimizations of Single Mode to Industrial Parallel Mode (ESEC/FSE 2018)

Abstract: Researchers have proposed many optimizations to improve the efficiency of fuzzing, and most optimized strategies work very well on their targets when running in single mode with instantiating one fuzzer instance. However, in real industrial practice, most fuzzers run in parallel mode with instantiating multiple fuzzer instances, and those optimizations, unfortunately, fail to maintain the efficiency improvements.

In this paper, we present PAFL, a framework that utilizes efficient guiding information synchronization and task division to extend those existing fuzzing optimizations of single-mode to industrial parallel mode. With an additional data structure to store the guiding information, the synchronization ensures the information is shared and updated among different fuzzer instances timely. Then, the task division promotes the diversity of fuzzer instances by splitting the fuzzing task into several sub-tasks based on branch bitmap. We first evaluate PAFL using 12 different real-world programs from Google fuzzer-test-suite. Results show that in parallel mode, two AFL improvers–AFLFast and FairFuzz do not outperform AFL, which is different from the case in a single mode. However, when augmented with PAFL, the performance of AFLFast and FairFuzz in parallel mode improves. They cover 8% and 17% more branches, trigger 79% and 52% more unique crashes. For further evaluation of more widely-used software systems from GitHub, optimized fuzzers augmented with PAFL find more real bugs, and 25 of which are security-critical vulnerabilities registered as CVEs in the US National Vulnerability Database.

Sanitizer-guided Fuzzing

ParmeSan: Sanitizer-guided Greybox Fuzzing (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: One of the key questions when fuzzing is where to look for vulnerabilities. Coverage-guided fuzzers indiscriminately optimize for covering as much code as possible given that bug coverage often correlates with code coverage. Since code coverage overapproximates bug coverage, this approach is less than ideal and may lead to non-trivial time-to-exposure (TTE) of bugs. Directed fuzzers try to address this problem by directing the fuzzer to a basic block with a potential vulnerability. This approach can greatly reduce the TTE for a specific bug, but such special-purpose fuzzers can then greatly underapproximate overall bug coverage.

In this paper, we present sanitizer-guided fuzzing, a new design point in this space that specifically optimizes for bug coverage. For this purpose, we make the key observation that while the instrumentation performed by existing software sanitizers are regularly used for detecting fuzzer-induced error conditions, they can further serve as a generic and effective mechanism to identify interesting basic blocks for guiding fuzzers. We present the design and implementation of ParmeSan, a new sanitizer-guided fuzzer that builds on this observation. We show that ParmeSan greatly reduces the TTE of real-world bugs, and finds bugs 37% faster than existing state-of-the-art coverage-based fuzzers (Angora) and 288% faster than directed fuzzers (AFLGo), while still covering the same set of bugs.

State Guided Fuzzing

Typestate-Guided Fuzzer for Discovering Use-after-Free Vulnerabilities (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Existing coverage-based fuzzers usually use the individual control flow graph (CFG) edge coverage to guide the fuzzing process, which has shown great potential in finding vulnerabilities. However, CFG edge coverage is not effective in discovering vulnerabilities such as use-after-free (UaF). This is because, to trigger UaF vulnerabilities, one needs not only to cover individual edges, but also to traverse some long sequence of edges in a particular order, which is challenging for existing fuzzers. To this end, we first propose to model UaF vulnerabilities as typestate properties, then develop a typestate-guided fuzzer, named UAFL, for discovering vulnerabilities violating typestate properties. %Our approach works in two phases. Given a typestate property, we first perform a static typestate analysis to find operation sequences potentially violating the property. Then, the fuzzing process is guided by the operation sequences in order to progressively generate test cases triggering property violations. In addition, we also adopt the information flow analysis to improve the efficiency of the fuzzing process. We performed a thorough evaluation of UAFL on 14 widely-used real-world programs. The experiment results show that UAFL substantially outperforms the state-of-the-art fuzzers, including AFL, AFLFast, FairFuzz, MOpt, Angora and QSYM, in terms of the time taken to discover vulnerabilities. We discovered 10 previously unknown vulnerabilities, and received 5 new CVEs.

IJON: Exploring Deep State Spaces via Fuzzing (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Although current fuzz testing (fuzzing) methods are highly effective, there are still many situations such as complex state machines where fully automated approaches fail. State-of-the-art fuzzing methods offer very limited ability for a human to interact and aid the fuzzer in such cases. More specifically, most current approaches are limited to adding a dictionary or new seed inputs to guide the fuzzer. When dealing with complex programs, these mechanisms are unable to uncover new parts of the codebase.

In this paper, we propose IJON, an annotation mechanism that a human analyst can use to guide the fuzzer. In contrast to the two aforementioned techniques, this approach allows a more systematic exploration of the program’s behavior based on the data representing the internal state of the program. As a consequence, using only a small (usually one line) annotation, a user can help the fuzzer to solve previously unsolvable challenges. We extended various AFL-based fuzzers with the ability to annotate the source code of the target application with guidance hints. Our evaluation demonstrates that such simple annotations are able to solve problems that—to the best of our knowledge—no other current fuzzer or symbolic execution based tool can overcome. For example, with our extension, a fuzzer is able to play and solve games such as Super Mario Bros. or resolve more complex patterns such as hash map lookups. To further demonstrate the capabilities of our annotations, we use AFL combined with IJON to uncover both novel security issues and issues that previously required a custom and comprehensive grammar to be uncovered. Lastly, we show that using IJON and AFL, one can solve many challenges from the CGC data set that resisted all fully automated and human-guided attempts so far.

MemFuzz: Using Memory Accesses to Guide Fuzzing (ICST 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a form of random testing that is widely used for finding bugs and vulnerabilities. State of the art approaches commonly leverage information about the control flow of prior executions of the program under test to decide which inputs to mutate further. By relying solely on control flow information to characterize executions, such approaches may miss relevant differences. We propose augmenting evolutionary fuzzing by additionally leveraging information about memory accesses performed by the target program. The resulting approach can leverage more sophisticated information about the execution of the target program, enhancing the effectiveness of the evolutionary fuzzing. We implement our approach as a modification of the widely used AFL fuzzer and evaluate our implementation on three widely used target applications. We find distinct crashes from those detected by AFL for all three targets in our evaluation.

Directed Fuzzing

KCFuzz: Directed Fuzzing Based on Keypoint Coverage (ICAIS 2021)

Abstract: Directed fuzzing, as an efficient method to focus on a specific set of targets in the program, often works better than random fuzzing when combined with a researcher’s empirical judgment. However, the current directed fuzzing work is not efficient enough. In previous studies, some have generated closer seed inputs by guiding the execution path through the distance from the target region, but the distance guided algorithm is less robust. Some studies used selective symbolic execution for directed testing to alleviate the path explosion problem, but it brings a higher false-positive rate. In this paper, we propose a keypoint coverage-based fuzzing (KCFuzz) method, which extracts the keypoint list using a control flow graph, obtains the keypoint list coverage information through runtime instrumentation, calculates the test priority of the seeds based on the overall coverage and keypoint coverage using an energy scheduling algorithm, and continuously generates test inputs closer to the target according to the specified mutation strategy. On this basis, a hybrid testing framework is implemented, using keypoint coverage directed fuzzing to generate a seed queue covering keypoints, using offspring generation strategies and hybrid execution technology, and further exploring the new state of the program according to changes in overall and keypoint coverage. The experimental results show that the KCFuzz method can efficiently induce the generation of seed queues to reach the target region, and at the same time, the depth and validity of the exploration paths are higher than those of the most advanced directed fuzzing methods such as AFLGo.

Constraint-guided Directed Greybox Fuzzing (USENIX Security2021)

Abstract: Directed greybox fuzzing is an augmented fuzzing technique intended for the targeted usages such as crash reproduction and proof-of-concept generation, which gives directedness to fuzzing by driving the seeds toward the designated program locations called target sites. However, we find that directed greybox fuzzing can still suffer from the long fuzzing time before exposing the targeted crash, because it does not consider the ordered target sites and the data conditions. This paper presents constraint-guided directed greybox fuzzing that aims to satisfy a sequence of constraints rather than merely reaching a set of target sites. Constraint-guided greybox fuzzing defines a constraint as the combination of a target site and the data conditions, and drives the seeds to satisfy the constraints in the specified order. We automatically generate the constraints with seven types of crash dumps and four types of patch changelogs, and evaluate the prototype system CAFL against the representative directed greybox fuzzing system AFLGo with 47 real-world crashes and 12 patch changelogs. The evaluation shows CAFL outperforms AFLGo by 2.88x for crash reproduction, and better performs in PoC generation as the constraints get explicit.

Constructing More Complete Control Flow Graphs Utilizing Directed Gray-Box Fuzzing (MDPI 2021)

Abstract: Control Flow Graphs (CFGs) provide fundamental data for many program analyses, such as malware analysis, vulnerability detection, code similarity analysis, etc. Existing techniques for constructing control flow graphs include static, dynamic, and hybrid analysis, which each having their own advantages and disadvantages. However, due to the difficulty of resolving indirect jump relations, the existing techniques are limited in completeness. In this paper, we propose a practical technique that applies static analysis and dynamic analysis to construct more complete control flow graphs. The main innovation of our approach is to adopt directed gray-box fuzzing (DGF) instead of coverage-based gray-box fuzzing (CGF) used in the existing approach to generate test cases that can exercise indirect jumps. We first employ a static analysis to construct the static CFGs without indirect jump relations. Then, we utilize directed gray-box fuzzing to generate test cases and resolve indirect jump relations by monitoring the execution traces of these test cases. Finally, we combine the static CFGs with indirect jump relations to construct more complete CFGs. In addition, we also propose an iterative feedback mechanism to further improve the completeness of CFGs. We have implemented our technique in a prototype and evaluated it through comparing with the existing approaches on eight benchmarks. The results show that our prototype can resolve more indirect jump relations and construct more complete CFGs than existing approaches.

Binary-level Directed Fuzzing for Use-After-Free Vulnerabilities (RAID 2020)

Abstract: Directed fuzzing focuses on automatically testing specific parts of the code by taking advantage of additional information such as (partial) bug stack trace, patches or risky operations. Key applications include bug reproduction, patch testing and static analysis report verification. Although directed fuzzing has received a lot of attention recently, hard-to-detect vulnerabilities such as Use-Afer-Free (UAF) are still not well addressed, more especially at the binary level. We propose UAFuzz, the first (binary-level) directed greybox fuzzer dedicated to UAF bugs. The technique features a fuzzing engine tailored to UAF specifics, a lightweight code instrumentation and an efficient bug triage step. Experimental evaluation for bug reproduction on real cases demonstrates that UAFuzz significantly outperforms state-of-the-art directed fuzzers in terms of fault detection rate, time to exposure and bug triaging. UAFuzz has also been proven effective in patch testing, leading to the discovery of 20 new bugs in Perl, GPAC and GNU Patch (including a buggy patch) - all of them have been acknowledged and 14 have been fixed. Last but not least, we provide to the community the first fuzzing benchmark dedicated to UAF, built on both real codes and real bugs.

Ankou: Guiding Grey-box Fuzzing towards Combinatorial Difference (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Grey-box fuzzing is an evolutionary process, which maintains and evolves a population of test cases with the help of a fitness function. Fitness functions used by current grey-box fuzzers are not informative in that they cannot distinguish different program executions as long as those executions achieve the same coverage. The problem is that the current fitness functions only consider a union of data, but not the combination of them. As such, fuzzers often get stuck in a local optimum during their search. In this paper, we introduce Ankou, the first grey-box fuzzer that recognizes different \emph{combinations} of execution information, and present several scalability challenges encountered while designing and implementing Ankou. Our experimental results show that Ankou is $1.94\times$ and $8.0\times$ more effective in finding bugs than AFL and Angora, respectively.

RDFuzz: Accelerating Directed Fuzzing with Intertwined Schedule and Optimized Mutation (2020)

Abstract: Directed fuzzing is a practical technique, which concentrates its testing energy on the process toward the target code areas, while costing little on other unconcerned components. It is a promising way to make better use of available resources, especially in testing large-scale programs. However, by observing the state-of-the-art-directed fuzzing engine (AFLGo), we argue that there are two universal limitations, the balance problem between the exploration and the exploitation and the blindness in mutation toward the target code areas. In this paper, we present a new prototype RDFuzz to address these two limitations. In RDFuzz, we first introduce the frequency-guided strategy in the exploration and improve its accuracy by adopting the branch-level instead of the path-level frequency. Then, we introduce the input-distance-based evaluation strategy in the exploitation stage and present an optimized mutation to distinguish and protect the distance sensitive input content. Moreover, an intertwined testing schedule is leveraged to perform the exploration and exploitation in turn. We test RDFuzz on 7 benchmarks, and the experimental results demonstrate that RDFuzz is skilled at driving the program toward the target code areas, and it is not easily stuck by the balance problem of the exploration and the exploitation.

TOFU: Target-Oriented FUzzer (Arxiv 2020)

Abstract: Program fuzzing—providing randomly constructed inputs to a computer program—has proved to be a powerful way to uncover bugs, find security vulnerabilities, and generate test inputs that increase code coverage. In many applications, however, one is interested in a target-oriented approach—one wants to find an input that causes the program to reach a specific target point in the program. We have created TOFU (for Target-Oriented FUzzer) to address the directed fuzzing problem. TOFU’s search is biased according to a distance metric that scores each input according to how close the input’s execution trace gets to the target locations. TOFU is also input-structure aware (i.e., the search makes use of a specification of a superset of the program’s allowed inputs). Our experiments on xmllint show that TOFU is 28% faster than AFLGo, while reaching 45% more targets. Moreover, both distance-guided search and exploitation of knowledge of the input structure contribute significantly to TOFU’s performance.

Sequence coverage directed greybox fuzzing (ICPC 2019)

Abstract: Existing directed fuzzers are not efficient enough. Directed symbolic-execution-based whitebox fuzzers, e.g. BugRedux, spend lots of time on heavyweight program analysis and constraints solving at runtime. Directed greybox fuzzers, such as AFLGo, perform well at runtime, but considerable calculation during instrumentation phase hinders the overall performance.

In this paper, we propose Sequence-coverage Directed Fuzzing (SCDF), a lightweight directed fuzzing technique which explores towards the user-specified program statements efficiently. Given a set of target statement sequences of a program, SCDF aims to generate inputs that can reach the statements in each sequence in order and trigger bugs in the program. Moreover, we present a novel energy schedule algorithm, which adjusts on demand a seed’s energy according to its ability of covering the given statement sequences calculated on demand. We implement the technique in a tool LOLLY in order to achieve efficiency both at instrumentation time and at runtime. Experiments on several real-world software projects demonstrate that LOLLY outperforms two well-established tools on efficiency and effectiveness, i.e., AFLGo-a directed greybox fuzzer and BugRedux-a directed symbolic-execution-based whitebox fuzzer.

Hawkeye: Towards a Desired Directed Grey-box Fuzzer (CCS 2018)

Abstract: Grey-box fuzzing is a practically effective approach to test real-world programs. However, most existing grey-box fuzzers lack directedness, i.e. the capability of executing towards user-specified target sites in the program. To emphasize existing challenges in directed fuzzing, we propose Hawkeye to feature four desired properties of directed grey-box fuzzers. Owing to a novel static analysis on the program under test and the target sites, Hawkeye precisely collects the information such as the call graph, function and basic block level distances to the targets. During fuzzing, Hawkeye evaluates exercised seeds based on both static information and the execution traces to generate the dynamic metrics, which are then used for seed prioritization, power scheduling and adaptive mutating. These strategies help Hawkeye to achieve better directedness and gravitate towards the target sites. We implemented Hawkeye as a fuzzing framework and evaluated it on various real-world programs under different scenarios. The experimental results showed that Hawkeye can reach the target sites and reproduce the crashes much faster than state-of-the-art grey-box fuzzers such as AFL and AFLGo. Specially, Hawkeye can reduce the time to exposure for certain vulnerabilities from about 3.5 hours to 0.5 hour. By now, Hawkeye has detected more than 41 previously unknown crashes in projects such as Oniguruma, MJS with the target sites provided by vulnerability prediction tools; all these crashes are confirmed and 15 of them have been assigned CVE IDs.

RFUZZ: Coverage-Directed Fuzz Testing of RTL on FPGAs (ICCAD 2018)

Abstract: Dynamic verification is widely used to increase confidence in the correctness of RTL circuits during the pre-silicon design phase. Despite numerous attempts over the last decades to automate the stimuli generation based on coverage feedback, Coverage Directed Test Generation (CDG) has not found the widespread adoption that one would expect. Based on new ideas from the software testing community around coverage-guided mutational fuzz testing, we propose a new approach to the CDG problem which requires minimal setup and takes advantage of FPGA-accelerated simulation for rapid testing. We provide test input and coverage definitions that allow fuzz testing to be applied to RTL circuit verification. In addition we propose and implement a series of transformation passes that make it feasible to reset arbitrary RTL designs quickly, a requirement for deterministic test execution. Alongside this paper we provide rfuzz, a fully featured implementation of our testing methodology which we make available as open-source software to the research community. An empirical evaluation of rfuzz shows promising results on archiving coverage for a wide range of different RTL designs ranging from communication IPs to an industry scale 64-bit CPU.

Directed Greybox Fuzzing (CCS 2017)

Abstract: Existing Greybox Fuzzers (GF) cannot be effectively directed, for instance, towards problematic changes or patches, towards critical system calls or dangerous locations, or towards functions in the stack-trace of a reported vulnerability that we wish to reproduce. In this paper, we introduce Directed Greybox Fuzzing (DGF) which generates inputs with the objective of reaching a given set of target program locations efficiently. We develop and evaluate a simulated annealing-based power schedule that gradually assigns more energy to seeds that are closer to the target locations while reducing energy for seeds that are further away. Experiments with our implementation AFLGo demonstrate that DGF outperforms both directed symbolic-execution-based whitebox fuzzing and undirected greybox fuzzing. We show applications of DGF to patch testing and crash reproduction, and discuss the integration of AFLGo into Google’s continuous fuzzing platform OSS-Fuzz. Due to its directedness, AFLGo could find 39 bugs in several well-fuzzed, security-critical projects like LibXML2. 17 CVEs were assigned.

Addressing Collision:

CollAFL: Path Sensitive Fuzzing (S&P 2018)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzzing is a widely used and ef- fective solution to find software vulnerabilities. Tracking code coverage and utilizing it to guide fuzzing are crucial to coverage- guided fuzzers. However, tracking full and accurate path coverage is infeasible in practice due to the high instrumentation overhead. Popular fuzzers (e.g., AFL) often use coarse coverage information, e.g., edge hit counts stored in a compact bitmap, to achieve highly efficient greybox testing. Such inaccuracy and incompleteness in coverage introduce serious limitations to fuzzers. First, it causes path collisions, which prevent fuzzers from discovering potential paths that lead to new crashes. More importantly, it prevents fuzzers from making wise decisions on fuzzing strategies. In this paper, we propose a coverage sensitive fuzzing solution CollAFL. It mitigates path collisions by providing more accurate coverage information, while still preserving low instrumentation overhead. It also utilizes the coverage information to apply three new fuzzing strategies, promoting the speed of discovering new paths and vulnerabilities. We implemented a prototype of CollAFL based on the popular fuzzer AFL and evaluated it on 24 popular applications. The results showed that path collisions are common, i.e., up to 75% of edges could collide with others in some applications, and CollAFL could reduce the edge collision ratio to nearly zero. Moreover, armed with the three fuzzing strategies, CollAFL outperforms AFL in terms of both code coverage and vulnerability discovery. On average, CollAFL covered 20% more program paths, found 320% more unique crashes and 260% more bugs than AFL in 200 hours. In total, CollAFL found 157 new security bugs with 95 new CVEs assigned.

Performance Fuzzing

HotFuzz: Discovering Algorithmic Denial-of-Service Vulnerabilities Through Guided Micro-Fuzzing (NDSS 2020)

Abstract: Contemporary fuzz testing techniques focus on identifying memory corruption vulnerabilities that allow adversaries to achieve either remote code execution or information disclosure. Meanwhile, Algorithmic Complexity (AC)vulnerabilities, which are a common attack vector for denial-of-service attacks, remain an understudied threat. In this paper, we present HotFuzz, a framework for automatically discovering AC vulnerabilities in Java libraries. HotFuzz uses micro-fuzzing, a genetic algorithm that evolves arbitrary Java objects in order to trigger the worst-case performance for a method under test. We define Small Recursive Instantiation (SRI) as a technique to derive seed inputs represented as Java objects to micro-fuzzing. After micro-fuzzing, HotFuzz synthesizes test cases that triggered AC vulnerabilities into Java programs and monitors their execution in order to reproduce vulnerabilities outside the fuzzing framework. HotFuzz outputs those programs that exhibit high CPU utilization as witnesses for AC vulnerabilities in a Java library. We evaluate HotFuzz over the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), the 100 most popular Java libraries on Maven, and challenges contained in the DARPA Space and Time Analysis for Cybersecurity (STAC) program. We evaluate SRI’s effectiveness by comparing the performance of micro-fuzzing with SRI, measured by the number of AC vulnerabilities detected, to simply using empty values as seed inputs. In this evaluation, we verified known AC vulnerabilities, discovered previously unknown AC vulnerabilities that we responsibly reported to vendors, and received confirmation from both IBM and Oracle. Our results demonstrate that micro-fuzzing finds AC vulnerabilities in real-world software, and that micro-fuzzing with SRI-derived seed inputs outperforms using empty values.

MemLock: Memory Usage Guided Fuzzing (ICSE2020)

Abstract: Uncontrolled memory consumption is a kind of critical software security weaknesses. It can also become a security-critical vulnerability when attackers can control the input to consume a large amount of memory to launch a Denial-of-Service attack. However, detecting such vulnerability is challenging due to the fact that it requires long executions with well-crafted inputs to trigger excessive memory consumption, while the state-of-the-art testing techniques have mostly focused on code coverage. To tackle this challenge, we propose a feedback-directed fuzzing technique, named MemLock, to automatically generate those memory-consuming inputs to trigger memory consumption bugs. The fuzzing process is guided with memory consumption information so that the approach is general and does not require any domain knowledge. We perform a thorough evaluation for MemLock on 14 widely-used real-world programs. Our experiment results show that MemLock substantially outperforms the state-of-the-art fuzzing techniques, including AFL, AFLfast, PerfFuzz, FairFuzz and QSYM, in discovering memory consumption bugs. During the experiments, we discovered several previously unknown excessive memory consumption vulnerabilities and received 15 new CVEs.

Singularity: Pattern Fuzzing for Worst Case Complexity (FSE 2018)

Abstract: We describe a new blackbox complexity testing technique for determining the worst-case asymptotic complexity of a given application. The key idea is to look for an input pattern —rather than a concrete input— that maximizes the asymptotic resource usage of the program. Because input patterns can be described concisely as programs in a restricted language, our method transforms the complexity testing problem to optimal program synthesis. In particular, we express these input patterns using a new model of computation called Recurrent Computation Graph (RCG) and solve the optimal synthesis problem by developing a genetic programming algorithm that operates on RCGs. We have implemented the proposed ideas in a tool called Singularity and evaluate it on a diverse set of benchmarks. Our evaluation shows that Singularity can effectively discover the worst-case complexity of various algorithms and that it is more scalable compared to existing state-of-the-art techniques. Furthermore, our experiments also corroborate that Singularity can discover previously unknown performance bugs and availability vulnerabilities in real-world applications such as Google Guava and JGraphT.

PerfFuzz: Automatically Generating Pathological Inputs (ISSTA 2018)

Abstract: Performance problems in software can arise unexpectedly when programs are provided with inputs that exhibit worst-case behavior. A large body of work has focused on diagnosing such problems via statistical profiling techniques. But how does one find these inputs in the first place? We present PerfFuzz, a method to automatically generate inputs that exercise pathological behavior across program locations, without any domain knowledge. PerfFuzz generates inputs via feedback-directed mutational fuzzing. Unlike previous approaches that attempt to maximize only a scalar characteristic such as the total execution path length, PerfFuzz uses multi-dimensional feedback and independently maximizes execution counts for all program locations. This enables PerfFuzz to (1) find a variety of inputs that exercise distinct hot spots in a program and (2) generate inputs with higher total execution path length than previous approaches by escaping local maxima. PerfFuzz is also effective at generating inputs that demonstrate algorithmic complexity vulnerabilities. We implement PerfFuzz on top of AFL, a popular coverage-guided fuzzing tool, and evaluate PerfFuzz on four real-world C programs typically used in the fuzzing literature. We find that PerfFuzz outperforms prior work by generating inputs that exercise the most-hit program branch 5x to 69x times more, and result in 1.9x to 24.7x longer total execution paths.

Badger: Complexity Analysis with Fuzzing and Symbolic Execution (ISSTA 2018)

Abstract: Hybrid testing approaches that involve fuzz testing and symbolic execution have shown promising results in achieving high code coverage, uncovering subtle errors and vulnerabilities in a variety of software applications. In this paper we describe Badger - a new hybrid approach for complexity analysis, with the goal of discovering vulnerabilities which occur when the worst-case time or space complexity of an application is significantly higher than the average case. Badger uses fuzz testing to generate a diverse set of inputs that aim to increase not only coverage but also a resource-related cost associated with each path. Since fuzzing may fail to execute deep program paths due to its limited knowledge about the conditions that influence these paths, we complement the analysis with a symbolic execution, which is also customized to search for paths that increase the resource-related cost. Symbolic execution is particularly good at generating inputs that satisfy various program conditions but by itself suffers from path explosion. Therefore, Badger uses fuzzing and symbolic execution in tandem, to leverage their benefits and overcome their weaknesses. We implemented our approach for the analysis of Java programs, based on Kelinci and Symbolic PathFinder. We evaluated Badger on Java applications, showing that our approach is significantly faster in generating worst-case executions compared to fuzzing or symbolic execution on their own.

SlowFuzz: Automated Domain-Independent Detection of Algorithmic Complexity Vulnerabilities (CCS 2017)

Abstract: Algorithmic complexity vulnerabilities occur when the worst-case time/space complexity of an application is significantly higher than the respective average case for particular user-controlled inputs. When such conditions are met, an attacker can launch Denial-of-Service attacks against a vulnerable application by providing inputs that trigger the worst-case behavior. Such attacks have been known to have serious effects on production systems, take down entire websites, or lead to bypasses of Web Application Firewalls. Unfortunately, existing detection mechanisms for algorithmic complexity vulnerabilities are domain-specific and often require significant manual effort. In this paper, we design, implement, and evaluate SlowFuzz, a domain-independent framework for automatically finding algorithmic complexity vulnerabilities. SlowFuzz automatically finds inputs that trigger worst-case algorithmic behavior in the tested binary. SlowFuzz uses resource-usage-guided evolutionary search techniques to automatically find inputs that maximize computational resource utilization for a given application.

Enhancing Memory Error:

Unleashing Fuzzing Through Comprehensive, Efficient, and Faithful Exploitable-Bug Exposing

Abstract: Fuzzing has become an essential means of finding software bugs. Bug finding through fuzzing requires two partsexploring code paths to reach bugs and exposing bugs when they are reached. Existing fuzzing research has primarily focused on improving code coverage but not on exposing bugs. Sanitizers such as AddressSanitizer (ASAN) and MemorySanitizer (MSAN) have been the dominating tools for exposing bugs. However, sanitizer-based bug exposing has the following limitations. (1) sanitizers are not compatible with each other. (2) sanitizers incur significant runtime overhead. (3) sanitizers may generate false positives, and (4) exposed bugs may not be exploitable. To address these limitations, we propose EXPOZZER, a fuzzing system that can expose bugs comprehensively, efficiently, and faithfully. The intuition of EXPOZZER is to detect bugs through divergences in a properly diversified dual-execution environment, which does not require maintaining or checking execution metadata. We design a practical and deterministic dual-execution engine, a co-design for dual-execution and fuzzers, bug-sensitive diversification, comprehensive and efficient divergence detection to ensure the effectiveness of EXPOZZER. The results of evaluations show that EXPOZZER can detect not only CVE-assigned vulnerabilities reliably, but also new vulnerabilities in well-tested real-world programs.EXPOZZER is 10 times faster than MemorySanitizer and is similar to AddressSanitizer.

HDR-Fuzz: Detecting Buffer Overruns using AddressSanitizer Instrumentation and Fuzzing (2021)

Abstract: Buffer-overruns are a prevalent vulnerability in software libraries and applications. Fuzz testing is one of the effective techniques to detect vulnerabilities in general. Greybox fuzzers such as AFL automatically generate a sequence of test inputs for a given program using a fitness-guided search process. A recently proposed approach in the literature introduced a buffer-overrun specific fitness metric called “headroom”, which tracks how close each generated test input comes to exposing the vulnerabilities. That approach showed good initial promise, but is somewhat imprecise and expensive due to its reliance on conservative points-to analysis. Inspired by the approach above, in this paper we propose a new ground-up approach for detecting buffer-overrun vulnerabilities. This approach uses an extended version of ASAN (Address Sanitizer) that runs in parallel with the fuzzer, and reports back to the fuzzer test inputs that happen to come closer to exposing buffer-overrun vulnerabilities. The ASAN-style instrumentation is precise as it has no dependence on points-to analysis. We describe in this paper our approach, as well as an implementation and evaluation of the approach.

Enhancing Memory Error Detection for Large-Scale Applications and Fuzz Testing (NDSS 2018)

Abstract: Memory errors are one of the most common vulnerabilities for the popularity of memory unsafe languages including C and C++. Once exploited, it can easily lead to system crash (i.e., denial-of-service attacks) or allow adversaries to fully compromise the victim system. This paper proposes MEDS, a practical memory error detector. MEDS significantly enhances its detection capability by approximating two ideal properties, called an infinite gap and an infinite heap. The approximated infinite gap of MEDS setups large inaccessible memory region between objects (i.e., 4 MB), and the approximated infinite heap allows MEDS to fully utilize virtual address space (i.e., 45-bits memory space). The key idea of MEDS in achieving these properties is a novel user-space memory allocation mechanism, MEDSALLOC. MEDSALLOC leverages a page aliasing mechanism, which allows MEDS to maximize the virtual memory space utilization but minimize the physical memory uses. To highlight the detection capability and practical impacts of MEDS, we evaluated and then compared to Google’s state-of-the-art detection tool, AddressSanitizer. MEDS showed three times better detection rates on four real-world vulnerabilities in Chrome and Firefox. More importantly, when used for a fuzz testing, MEDS was able to identify 68.3% more memory errors than AddressSanitizer for the same amount of a testing time, highlighting its practical aspects in the software testing area. In terms of performance overhead, MEDS slowed down 108% and 86% compared to native execution and AddressSanitizer, respectively, on real-world applications including Chrome, Firefox, Apache, Nginx, and OpenSSL.

AddressSanitizer: A Fast Address Sanity Checker (USENIX Security2012)

Memory access bugs, including buffer overflows and uses of freed heap memory, remain a serious problem for programming languages like C and C++. Many memory error detectors exist, but most of them are either slow or detect a limited set of bugs, or both. This paper presents AddressSanitizer, a new memory error detector. Our tool finds out-of-bounds accesses to heap, stack, and global objects, as well as use-after-free bugs. It employs a specialized memory allocator and code instrumentation that is simple enough to be implemented in any compiler, binary translation system, or even in hardware. AddressSanitizer achieves efficiency without sacrificing comprehensiveness. Its average slowdown is just 73% yet it accurately detects bugs at the point of occurrence. It has found over 300 previously unknown bugs in the Chromium browser and many bugs in other software.

Schedule (Power & Mutation)

Seed Selection for Successful Fuzzing (ISSTA 2021)

Abstract: Mutation-based greybox fuzzing—unquestionably the most widely-used fuzzing technique—relies on a set of non-crashing seed inputs (a corpus) to bootstrap the bug-finding process. When evaluating a fuzzer, common approaches for constructing this corpus include: (i) using an empty file; (ii) using a single seed representative of the target’s input format; or (iii) collecting a large number of seeds (e.g., by crawling the Internet). Little thought is given to how this seed choice affects the fuzzing process, and there is no consensus on which approach is best (or even if a best approach exists).

To address this gap in knowledge, we systematically investigate and evaluate how seed selection affects a fuzzer’s ability to find bugs in real-world software. This includes a systematic review of seed selection practices used in both evaluation and deployment contexts, and a large-scale empirical evaluation (over 33 CPU-years) of six seed selection approaches. These six seed selection approaches include three corpus minimization techniques (which select the smallest subset of seeds that trigger the same range of instrumentation data points as a full corpus).

Our results demonstrate that fuzzing outcomes vary significantly depending on the initial seeds used to bootstrap the fuzzer, with minimized corpora outperforming singleton, empty, and large (in the order of thousands of files) seed sets. Consequently, we encourage seed selection to be foremost in mind when evaluating/deploying fuzzers, and recommend that (a) seed choice be carefully considered and explicitly documented, and (b) never to evaluate fuzzers with only a single seed.

MooFuzz: Many-Objective Optimization Seed Schedule for Fuzzer (Mathematics 2021)

Abstract: Coverage-based Greybox Fuzzing (CGF) is a practical and effective solution for finding bugs and vulnerabilities in software. A key challenge of CGF is how to select conducive seeds and allocate accurate energy. To address this problem, we propose a novel many-objective optimization solution, MooFuzz, which can identify different states of the seed pool and continuously gather different information about seeds to guide seed schedule and energy allocation. First, MooFuzz conducts risk marking in dangerous positions of the source code. Second, it can automatically update the collected information, including the path risk, the path frequency, and the mutation information. Next, MooFuzz classifies seed pool into three states and adopts different objectives to select seeds. Finally, we design an energy recovery mechanism to monitor energy usage in the fuzzing process and reduce energy consumption. We implement our fuzzing framework and evaluate it on seven real-world programs. The experimental results show that MooFuzz outperforms other state-of-the-art fuzzers, including AFL, AFLFast, FairFuzz, and PerfFuzz, in terms of path discovery and bug detection.

EcoFuzz: Adaptive Energy-Saving Greybox Fuzzing as a Variant of the Adversarial Multi-Armed Bandit (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is one of the most effective approaches for identifying security vulnerabilities. As a state-of-the-art coverage-based greybox fuzzer, AFL is a highly effective and widely used technique. However, AFL allocates excessive energy (i.e.,the number of test cases generated by the seed) to seeds that exercise the high-frequency paths and can not adaptively adjust the energy allocation, thus wasting a significant amount of energy. Moreover, the current Markov model for modeling coverage-based greybox fuzzing is not profound enough. This paper presents a variant of the Adversarial Multi-Armed Bandit model for modeling AFL’s power schedule process. We first explain the challenges in AFL’s scheduling algorithm by using the reward probability that generates a test case for discovering a new path. Moreover, we illustrated the three states of the seeds set and developed a unique adaptive scheduling algorithm as well as a probability-based search strategy. These approaches are implemented on top of AFL in an adaptive energy-saving greybox fuzzer called EcoFuzz. EcoFuzz is examined against other six AFL-type tools on 14 real-world subjects over 490 CPU days. According to the results, EcoFuzz could attain 214% of the path coverage of AFL with reducing 32% test cases generation of that of AFL. Besides, EcoFuzz identified 12 vulnerabilities in GNU Binutils and other software. We also extended EcoFuzz to test some IoT devices and found a new vulnerability in the SNMP component.

MEUZZ: Smart Seed Scheduling for Hybrid Fuzzing (2020)

Abstract: Seed scheduling is a prominent factor in determining the yields of hybrid fuzzing. Existing hybrid fuzzers schedule seeds based on fixed heuristics that aim to predict input utilities. However, such heuristics are not generalizable as there exists no one-size-fits-all rule applicable to different programs. They may work well on the programs from which they were derived, but not others. To overcome this problem, we design a Machine learning-Enhanced hybrid fUZZing system (MEUZZ), which employs supervised machine learning for adaptive and generalizable seed scheduling. MEUZZ determines which new seeds are expected to produce better fuzzing yields based on the knowledge learned from past seed scheduling decisions made on the same or similar programs. MEUZZ’s learning is based on a series of features extracted via code reachability and dynamic analysis, which incurs negligible runtime overhead (in microseconds). Moreover, MEUZZ automatically infers the data labels by evaluating the fuzzing performance of each selected seed. As a result, MEUZZ is generally applicable to, and performs well on, various kinds of programs. Our evaluation shows MEUZZ significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art grey-box and hybrid fuzzers, achieving 27.1% more code coverage than QSYM. The learned models are reusable and transferable, which boosts fuzzing performance by 7.1% on average and improves 68% of the 56 cross-program fuzzing campaigns. MEUZZ discovered 47 deeply hidden and previously unknown bugs–with 21 confirmed and fixed by the developers–when fuzzing 8 well-tested programs with the same configurations as used in previous work.

Greybox Fuzzing Based on Ant Colony Algorithm (AINA 2020)

Abstract: Greybox fuzzing technology is a kind of fuzzing technology that is commonly used now and effective. This fuzzing technology can guide the direction of fuzzing by acquiring the execution information of some paths in the program. However, the gray box fuzzy testing technology commonly used in the market today evaluates the seed of a sample by its path depth, execution time, and whether there is a new path to judge the quality of a sample, which is often not comprehensive. This article will propose a sample seed screening technology that uses ant colony algorithm to control gray box fuzzy test. By estimating the transition probability between the basic block and the basic block, we can determine what kind of seed sample is more likely to mutate into a new sample file. Based on this, the order and degree of fuzzing of the samples are determined, so as to improve the efficiency of fuzzing.

Suzzer: A Vulnerability-Guided Fuzzer Based on Deep Learning (Inscrypt 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a simple and effective way to find software bugs. Most state-of-the-art fuzzers focus on improving code coverage to enhance the possibility of causing crashes. However, a software program oftentimes has only a fairly small portion that contains vulnerabilities, leading coverage-based fuzzers to work poorly most of the time. To address this challenge, we propose Suzzer, a vulnerability-guided fuzzer, to concentrate on testing code blocks that are more likely to contain bugs. Suzzer has a light-weight static analyzer to extract ACFG vector from target programs. In order to determine which code blocks are more vulnerable, Suzzer is equipped with prediction models which get the prior probability of each ACFG vector. The prediction models will guide Suzzer to generate test inputs with higher vulnerability scores, thus improving the efficiency of finding bugs. We evaluate Suzzer using two different datasets: artificial LAVA-M dataset and a set of real-world programs. The results demonstrate that in the best case of short-term fuzzing, Suzzer saved 64.5% of the time consumed to discover vulnerabilities compared to VUzzer.

MOPT: Optimize Mutation Scheduling for Fuzzers (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: MOpt is a novel mutation scheduling scheme, which enables mutation-based fuzzers to discover vulnerabilities more efficiently. MOPT utilizes a customized Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) algorithm to find the optimal selection probability distribution of operators with respect to fuzzing effectiveness, and provides a pacemaker fuzzing mode to accelerate the convergence speed of PSO. MOPT provides a good rationality, compatibility and steadiness, while introducing negligible costs. We make MOpt-AFL (one of the applications of MOpt-based fuzzers), seed sets used in the evaluation, results and the technical report with more details publicly available to facilitate the research in this area, which is available at: https://github.com/puppet-meteor/MOpt-AFL .

Cerebro: Context-aware Adaptive Fuzzing for Effective Vulnerability Detection (FSE 2019)

Abstract: Existing greybox fuzzers mainly utilize program coverage as the goal to guide the fuzzing process. To maximize their outputs, coverage-based greybox fuzzers need to evaluate the quality of seeds properly, which involves making two decisions: 1) which is the most promising seed to fuzz next (seed prioritization), and 2) how many efforts should be made to the current seed (power scheduling). In this paper, we present our fuzzer, Cerebro, to address the above challenges. For the seed prioritization problem, we propose an online multi-objective based algorithm to balance various metrics such as code complexity, coverage, execution time, etc. To address the power scheduling problem, we introduce the concept of input potential to measure the complexity of uncovered code and propose a cost-effective algorithm to update it dynamically. Unlike previous approaches where the fuzzer evaluates an input solely based on the execution traces that it has covered, Cerebro is able to foresee the benefits of fuzzing the input by adaptively evaluating its input potential. We perform a thorough evaluation for Cerebro on 6 different real-world programs. The experiments show that Cerebro can find more vulnerabilities and achieve better coverage than state-of-the-art fuzzers such as AFL and AFLFast. Additionally, we found 15 previously unknown bugs in mjs (a light-weight Javascript engine for embedded systems), Intel XED (Intel X86 Encoder Decoder) during the experiments and 1 new CVE in Radare2 (a popular reverse engineering framework). Furthermore, all the new bugs are confirmed by the developers and fixed.

Coverage-based Greybox Fuzzing as Markov Chain (CCS 2016)

Abstract: Coverage-based Greybox Fuzzing (CGF) is a random testing approach that requires no program analysis. A new test is generated by slightly mutating a seed input. If the test exercises a new and interesting path, it is added to the set of seeds; otherwise, it is discarded. We observe that most tests exercise the same few “high-frequency” paths and develop strategies to explore significantly more paths with the same number of tests by gravitating towards low-frequency paths. We explain the challenges and opportunities of CGF using a Markov chain model which specifies the probability that fuzzing the seed that exercises path i generates an input that exercises path j. Each state (i.e., seed) has an energy that specifies the number of inputs to be generated from that seed. We show that CGF is considerably more efficient if energy is inversely proportional to the density of the stationary distribution and increases monotonically every time that seed is chosen. Energy is controlled with a power schedule. We implemented the exponential schedule by extending AFL. In 24 hours, AFLFAST exposes 3 previously unreported CVEs that are not exposed by AFL and exposes 6 previously unreported CVEs 7x faster than AFL. AFLFAST produces at least an order of magnitude more unique crashes than AFL.

Program-Adaptive Mutational Fuzzing (S&P 2015)

Abstract: We present the design of an algorithm to maximize the number of bugs found for black-box mutational fuzzing given a program and a seed input. The major intuition is to leverage white-box symbolic analysis on an execution trace for a given program-seed pair to detect dependencies among the bit positions of an input, and then use this dependency relation to compute a probabilistically optimal mutation ratio for this program-seed pair. Our result is promising: we found an average of 38.6% more bugs than three previous fuzzers over 8 applications using the same amount of fuzzing time.

Learning-based Fuzzing

Automated Conformance Testing for JavaScript Engines via Deep Compiler Fuzzing (PLDI 2021)

Abstract: JavaScript (JS) is a popular, platform-independent programming language. To ensure the interoperability of JS programs across different platforms, the implementation of a JS engine should conform to the ECMAScript standard. However, doing so is challenging as there are many subtle definitions of API behaviors, and the definitions keep evolving. We present COMFORT, a new compiler fuzzing framework for detecting JS engine bugs and behaviors that deviate from the ECMAScript standard. COMFORT leverages the recent advance in deep learning-based language models to automatically generate JS test code. As a departure from prior fuzzers, COMFORT utilizes the well-structured ECMAScript specifications to automatically generate test data along with the test programs to expose bugs that could be overlooked by the developers or manually written test cases. COMFORT then applies differential testing methodologies on the generated test cases to expose standard conformance bugs. We apply COMFORT to ten mainstream JS engines. In 200 hours of automated concurrent testing runs, we discover bugs in all tested JS engines. We had identified 158 unique JS engine bugs, of which 129 have been verified, and 115 have already been fixed by the developers. Furthermore, 21 of the Comfort-generated test cases have been added to Test262, the official ECMAScript conformance test suite.

Reinforcement Learning-based Hierarchical Seed Scheduling for Greybox Fuzzing (NDSS 2021)

Abstract: Coverage metrics play an essential role in greybox fuzzing. Recent work has shown that fine-grained coverage metrics could allow a fuzzer to detect bugs that cannot be covered by traditional edge coverage. However, fine-grained coverage metrics will also select more seeds, which cannot be efficiently scheduled by existing algorithms. This work addresses this problem by introducing a new concept of multi-level coverage metric and the corresponding reinforcement-learning-based hierarchical scheduler. Evaluation of our prototype on DARPA CGC showed that our approach outperforms AFL and AFLFast significantly: it can detect 20% more bugs, achieve higher coverage on 83 out of 180 challenges, and achieve the same coverage on 60 challenges. More importantly, it can detect the same number of bugs and achieve the same coverage faster. On FuzzBench, our approach achieves higher coverage than AFL++ (Qemu) on 10 out of 20 projects.

OmniFuzz: A Flexible Framework for Expediting Bug Finding by Leveraging Past (Mis-)Behavior to Discover New Bugs (ACSAC 2020)

Abstract: Among various fuzzing approaches, coverage-guided grey-box fuzzing is perhaps the most prominent, due to its ease of use and effectiveness. Using this approach, the selection of inputs focuses on maximizing program coverage, e.g., in terms of the different branches that have been traversed. In this work, we begin with the observation that selecting any input that explores a new path, and giving equal weight to all paths, can lead to severe inefficiencies. For instance, although seemingly “new” crashes involving previously unexplored paths may be discovered, these often have the same root cause and actually correspond to the same bug.

To address these inefficiencies, we introduce a framework that incorporates a tighter feedback loop to guide the fuzzing process in exploring truly diverse code paths. Our framework employs (i) a vulnerability-aware selection of coverage metrics for enhancing the effectiveness of code exploration, (ii) crash deduplication information for early feedback, and (iii) a configurable input culling strategy that interleaves multiple strategies to achieve comprehensiveness. A novel aspect of our work is the use of hardware performance counters to derive coverage metrics. We present an approach for assessing and selecting the hardware events that can be used as a meaningful coverage metric for a target program. The results of our empirical evaluation using real-world programs demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach: in some cases, we explore fewer than 50% of the paths compared to a base fuzzer (AFL, MOpt, and Fairfuzz), yet on average, we improve new bug discovery by 31%, and find the same bugs (as the base) 3.3 times faster. Moreover, although we specifically chose applications that have been subject to recent fuzzing campaigns, we still discovered 9 new vulnerabilities.

Learning Input Tokens for Effective Fuzzing (ISSTA 2020)

Abstract: Modern fuzzing tools like AFL operate at a lexical level: They explore the input space of tested programs one byte after another. For inputs with complex syntactical properties, this is very inefficient, as keywords and other tokens have to be composed one character at a time. Fuzzers thus allow to specify dictionaries listing possible tokens the input can be composed from; such dictionaries speed up fuzzers dramatically. Also, fuzzers make use of dynamic tainting to track input tokens and infer values that are expected in the input validation phase. Unfortunately, such tokens are usually implicitly converted to program specific values which causes a loss of the taints attached to the input data in the lexical phase.

In this paper we present a technique to extend dynamic tainting to not only track explicit data flows but also taint implicitly converted data without suffering from taint explosion. This extension makes it possible to augment existing techniques and automatically infer a set of tokens and seed inputs for the input language of a program given nothing but the source code. Specifically targeting the lexical analysis of an input processor, our lFuzzer test generator systematically explores branches of the lexical analysis, producing a set of tokens that fully cover all decisions seen. The resulting set of tokens can be directly used as a dictionary for fuzzing. Along with the token extraction seed inputs are generated which give further fuzzing processes a head start. In our experiments, the lFuzzer-AFL combination achieves up to 17% more coverage on complex input formats like JSON, LISP, tinyC, and JavaScript compared to AFL.

MTFuzz: Fuzzing with a Multi-task Neural Network (FSE 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a widely used technique for detecting software bugs and vulnerabilities. Most popular fuzzers generate new inputs using an evolutionary search to maximize code coverage. Essentially, these fuzzers start with a set of seed inputs, mutate them to generate new inputs, and identify the promising inputs using an evolutionary fitness function for further mutation. Despite their success, evolutionary fuzzers tend to get stuck in long sequences of unproductive mutations. In recent years, machine learning (ML) based mutation strategies have reported promising results. However, the existing ML-based fuzzers are limited by the lack of quality and diversity of the training data. As the input space of the target programs is high dimensional and sparse, it is prohibitively expensive to collect many diverse samples demonstrating successful and unsuccessful mutations to train the model. In this paper, we address these issues by using a Multi-Task Neural Network that can learn a compact embedding of the input space based on diverse training samples for multiple related tasks (i.e., predicting different types of coverage). The compact embedding can be used to guide the mutation process effectively by focusing most of the mutations on the parts of the embedding where the gradient is high. Our results show that MTFuzz uncovers 11 previously unseen bugs and achieves an average of 2x more edge coverage compared with 5 state-of-the-art fuzzer on 10 real-world programs.

FuzzGuard: Filtering out Unreachable Inputs in Directed Grey-box Fuzzing through Deep Learning (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Recently, directed grey-box fuzzing (DGF) becomes much more popular in the field of software testing. Different from coverage-based fuzzing whose goal is to increase code coverage for triggering more bugs, DGF is designed to test only the potential buggy code whose location is known (e.g., testing the high-risk code such as string operations). For the efficiency, all the inputs generated by an ideal DGF should reach the buggy code, hoping to trigger the bug. Any unreachable input will waste the time spent on execution. Unfortunately, in a real situation, large numbers of the generated inputs miss the target, greatly impacting the efficiency of testing, especially when the buggy code is hard to reach.

In this paper, we propose a deep-learning-based approach to predict the reachability of inputs and filter out those unreachable ones, which works together with DGF fuzzers instead of replacing them. In the process of combining deep learning with fuzzing, we design a suite of new techniques (e.g., step-forwarding approach, representative data selection) to solve the problems of unbalanced labeled data and low efficiency. We implemented a prototype called FuzzGuard and evaluated it using 45 real vulnerabilities. The results show that FuzzGuard boosts the fuzzing efficiency of the state-of-the-art DGF (e.g., AFLGo) up to 17 times. We also found 19 undisclosed bugs, and 4 zero-day bugs (we have got CVE numbers). Finally, we design an approach to understand the extracted features of the deep neural network model, and find them correlate with the constraints in target programs, which indeed impacts the execution on the code level.

LearnAFL: Greybox Fuzzing With Knowledge Enhancement (Access 2019)

Abstract: Mutation-based greybox fuzzing is a highly effective and widely used technique to find bugs in software. Provided initial seeds, fuzzers continuously generate test cases to test the software by mutating a seed input. However, the majority of them are “invalid” because the mutation may destroy the format of the seeds. In this paper, we present a knowledge-learn evolutionary fuzzer based on AFL, which is called LearnAFL. LearnAFL does not require any prior knowledge of the application or input format. Based on our format generation theory, LearnAFL can learn partial format knowledge of some paths by analyzing the test cases that exercise the paths. Then LearnAFL uses these format information to mutate the seeds, which is efficient to explore deeper paths and reduce the test cases exercising high-frequency paths than AFL. We compared LearnAFL with AFL and some other state-of-the-art fuzzers on ten real-world programs. The result showed that LearnAFL could reach branch coverage 120% and 110% of that of AFL and FairFuzz, respectively. LearnAFL also found 8 unknown vulnerabilities in GNU Binutils, Libpng and Gif2png, all of which have been reported to the vendors. Besides, we compared the format information learned from the initial seed of an ELF file with a format standard of ELF files. The result showed that LearnAFL learns about 64% part of the file format without any prior knowledge.

NeuFuzz: Efficient Fuzzing With Deep Neural Network (Access 2019)

Abstract: Coverage-guided gray box fuzzing is one of the most popular and effective techniques for discovering vulnerabilities due to its nature of high speed and scalability. However, the existing techniques generally focus on code coverage but not on vulnerable code. These techniques aim to cover as many paths as possible rather than to explore paths that are more likely to be vulnerable. When selecting the seeds to test, the existing fuzzers usually treat all seed inputs equally, ignoring the fact that paths exercised by different seed inputs are not equally vulnerable. This results in wasting time testing uninteresting paths rather than vulnerable paths, thus reducing the efficiency of vulnerability detection. In this paper, we present a solution, NeuFuzz, using the deep neural network to guide intelligent seed selection during gray box fuzzing to alleviate the aforementioned limitation. In particular, the deep neural network is used to learn the hidden vulnerability pattern from a large number of vulnerable and clean program paths to train a prediction model to classify whether paths are vulnerable. The fuzzer then prioritizes seed inputs that are capable of covering the likely to be vulnerable paths and assigns more mutation energy (i.e., the number of inputs to be generated) to these seeds. We implemented a prototype of NeuFuzz based on an existing fuzzer PTfuzz and evaluated it on two different test suites: LAVA-M and nine real-world applications. The experimental results showed that NeuFuzz can find more vulnerabilities than the existing fuzzers in less time. We have found 28 new security bugs in these applications, 21 of which have been assigned as CVE IDs.

Learning-Guided Network Fuzzing for Testing Cyber-Physical System Defences (ASE 2019)

Abstract: The threat of attack faced by cyber-physical systems (CPSs), especially when they play a critical role in automating public infrastructure, has motivated research into a wide variety of attack defence mechanisms. Assessing their effectiveness is challenging, however, as realistic sets of attacks to test them against are not always available. In this paper, we propose smart fuzzing, an automated, machine learning guided technique for systematically finding ‘test suites’ of CPS network attacks, without requiring any expertise in the system’s control programs or physical processes. Our approach uses predictive machine learning models and metaheuristic search algorithms to guide the fuzzing of actuators so as to drive the CPS into different unsafe physical states. We demonstrate the efficacy of smart fuzzing by implementing it for two real-world CPS testbeds—a water purification plant and a water distribution system—finding attacks that drive them into 27 different unsafe states involving water flow, pressure, and tank levels, including six that were not covered by an established attack benchmark. Finally, we use our approach to test the effectiveness of an invariant-based defence system for the water treatment plant, finding two attacks that were not detected by its physical invariant checks, highlighting a potential weakness that could be exploited in certain conditions.

NEUZZ: Efficient Fuzzing with Neural Program Smoothing (S&P 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing has become the de facto standard technique for finding software vulnerabilities. However, even state-of-the-art fuzzers are not very efficient at finding hard-to-trigger software bugs. Most popular fuzzers use evolutionary guidance to generate inputs that can trigger different bugs. Such evolutionary algorithms, while fast and simple to implement, often get stuck in fruitless sequences of random mutations. Gradient-guided optimization presents a promising alternative to evolutionary guidance. Gradient-guided techniques have been shown to significantly outperform evolutionary algorithms at solving high-dimensional structured optimization problems in domains like machine learning by efficiently utilizing gradients or higher-order derivatives of the underlying function. However, gradient-guided approaches are not directly applicable to fuzzing as real-world program behaviors contain many discontinuities, plateaus, and ridges where the gradient-based methods often get stuck. We observe that this problem can be addressed by creating a smooth surrogate function approximating the target program’s discrete branching behavior. In this paper, we propose a novel program smoothing technique using surrogate neural network models that can incrementally learn smooth approximations of a complex, real-world program’s branching behaviors. We further demonstrate that such neural network models can be used together with gradient-guided input generation schemes to significantly increase the efficiency of the fuzzing process. Our extensive evaluations demonstrate that NEUZZ significantly outperforms 10 state-of-the-art graybox fuzzers on 10 popular real-world programs both at finding new bugs and achieving higher edge coverage. NEUZZ found 31 previously unknown bugs (including two CVEs) that other fuzzers failed to find in 10 real-world programs and achieved 3X more edge coverage than all of the tested graybox fuzzers over 24 hour runs. Furthermore, NEUZZ also outperformed existing fuzzers on both LAVA-M and DARPA CGC bug datasets.

V-Fuzz: Vulnerability-Oriented Evolutionary Fuzzing (Arxiv 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a technique of finding bugs by executing a software recurrently with a large number of abnormal inputs. Most of the existing fuzzers consider all parts of a software equally, and pay too much attention on how to improve the code coverage. It is inefficient as the vulnerable code only takes a tiny fraction of the entire code. In this paper, we design and implement avulnerability-oriented evolutionary fuzzing prototype named V-Fuzz, which aims to find bugs efficiently and quickly in a limited time. V-Fuzz consists of two main components: a neural network-based vulnerability prediction model and a vulnerability-oriented evolutionary fuzzer. Given a binary program to V-Fuzz, the vulnerability prediction model will give a prior estimation on which parts ofthe software are more likely to be vulnerable. Then, the fuzzer leverages an evolutionary algorithm to generate inputs which tend to arrive at the vulnerable locations, guided by the vulnerability prediction result. Experimental results demonstrate that V-Fuzz can find bugs more efficiently than state-of-the-art fuzzers. Moreover, V-Fuzz has discovered 10 CVEs, and 3 of them are newly discovered. We reported the new CVEs, and they have been confirmed and fixed.

Compiler Fuzzing through Deep Learning (ISSTA 2018)

Abstract: Random program generation — fuzzing — is an effective technique for discovering bugs in compilers but successful fuzzers require extensive development effort for every language supported by the compiler, and often leave parts of the language space untested. We introduce DeepSmith, a novel machine learning approach to accelerating compiler validation through the inference of generative models for compiler inputs. Our approach infers a learned model of the structure of real world code based on a large corpus of open source code. Then, it uses the model to automatically generate tens of thousands of realistic programs. Finally, we apply established differential testing methodologies on them to expose bugs in compilers. We apply our approach to the OpenCL programming language, automatically exposing bugs with little effort on our side. In 1,000 hours of automated testing of commercial and open source compilers, we discover bugs in all of them, submitting 67 bug reports. Our test cases are on average two orders of magnitude smaller than the state-of-the-art, require 3.03× less time to generate and evaluate, and expose bugs which the state-of-the-art cannot. Our random program generator, comprising only 500 lines of code, took 12 hours to train for OpenCL versus the state-of-the-art taking 9 man months to port from a generator for C and 50,000 lines of code. With 18 lines of code we extended our program generator to a second language, uncovering crashes in Solidity compilers in 12 hours of automated testing.

Deep Reinforcement Fuzzing (SPW 2018)

Abstract: Fuzzing is the process of finding security vulnerabilities in input-processing code by repeatedly testing the code with modified inputs. In this paper, we formalize fuzzing as a reinforcement learning problem using the concept of Markov decision processes. This in turn allows us to apply state-of-the-art deep Q -learning algorithms that optimize rewards, which we define from runtime properties of the program under test. By observing the rewards caused by mutating with a specific set of actions performed on an initial program input, the fuzzing agent learns a policy that can next generate new higher-reward inputs. We have implemented this new approach, and preliminary empirical evidence shows that reinforcement fuzzing can outperform baseline random fuzzing.

Learn&Fuzz: Machine Learning for Input Fuzzing (ASE 2017)

Abstract: Fuzzing consists of repeatedly testing an application with modified, or fuzzed, inputs with the goal of finding security vulnerabilities in input-parsing code. In this paper, we show how to automate the generation of an input grammar suitable for input fuzzing using sample inputs and neural-network-based statistical machine-learning techniques. We present a detailed case study with a complex input format, namely PDF, and a large complex security-critical parser for this format, namely, the PDF parser embedded in Microsoft’s new Edge browser. We discuss and measure the tension between conflicting learning and fuzzing goals: learning wants to capture the structure of well-formed inputs, while fuzzing wants to break that structure in order to cover unexpected code paths and find bugs. We also present a new algorithm for this learn&fuzz challenge which uses a learnt input probability distribution to intelligently guide where to fuzz inputs.

Fuzzing Machine Learning Model

RapidFuzz: Accelerating fuzzing via Generative Adversarial Networks (Neurocomputing 2021)

Abstract: We implement a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) based fuzzer called RapidFuzz to generate synthetic testcase, which can precisely catch the data structure feature in a relatively shorter time than the state-of-art fuzzers. RapidFuzz provides potential seeds generated by GAN. i.e., The generated seeds with similar but different numerical distributions accelerate the mutation process. An algorithm is elaborately designed to locate the hot-points generated by GAN. The generated testcases make structural features easier to be identified, which makes the whole process faster. In our experiment, RapidFuzz considerably improves the performance of American Fuzzy Lop(AFL) in speed, coverage, and mapsize. We select 9 open-sourced programs with different highly-structured inputs to demonstrate the effectiveness of RapidFuzz. As a result, code coverage is significantly improved. For tiff2pdf and tiffdump, coverage increase exceeds over 20%. We also observe that RapidFuzz achieves the same coverage with less time than AFL. Furthermore, AFL absorbs 21% of generated seed files in tiff2pdf with an average absorption rate around 15% in other programs.

CoCoFuzzing: Testing Neural Code Models with Coverage-Guided Fuzzing (2021)

Abstract: Deep learning-based code processing models have shown good performance for tasks such as predicting method names, summarizing programs, and comment generation. However, despite the tremendous progress, deep learning models are often prone to adversarial attacks, which can significantly threaten the robustness and generalizability of these models by leading them to misclassification with unexpected inputs. To address the above issue, many deep learning testing approaches have been proposed, however, these approaches mainly focus on testing deep learning applications in the domains of image, audio, and text analysis, etc., which cannot be directly applied to neural models for code due to the unique properties of programs. In this paper, we propose a coverage-based fuzzing framework, CoCoFuzzing, for testing deep learning-based code processing models. In particular, we first propose ten mutation operators to automatically generate valid and semantically preserving source code examples as tests; then we propose a neuron coverage-based approach to guide the generation of tests. We investigate the performance of CoCoFuzzing on three state-of-the-art neural code models, i.e., NeuralCodeSum, CODE2SEQ, and CODE2VEC. Our experiment results demonstrate that CoCoFuzzing can generate valid and semantically preserving source code examples for testing the robustness and generalizability of these models and improve the neuron coverage. Moreover, these tests can be used to improve the performance of the target neural code models through adversarial retraining.

Graph-based Fuzz Testing for Deep Learning Inference Engines (ICSE 2021)

Abstract: With the wide use of Deep Learning (DL) systems, academy and industry begin to pay attention to their quality. Testing is one of the major methods of quality assurance. However, existing testing techniques focus on the quality of DL models but lacks attention to the core underlying inference engines (i.e., frameworks and libraries). Inspired by the success stories of fuzz testing, we design a graph-based fuzz testing method to improve the quality of DL inference engines. This method is naturally followed by the graph structure of DL models. An operator-level coverage based on graph theory is introduced and six different mutations are implemented to generate diversified DL models by exploring combinations of model structures, parameters, and data. The Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) is used to drive DL model generation without a training process. The experimental results show that the MCTS outperforms the random method in boosting operator-level coverage and detecting exceptions. Our method has discovered more than 40 different exceptions in three types of undesired behaviors: model conversion failure, inference failure, output comparison failure. The mutation strategies are useful to generate new valid test inputs, by up to an 8.2% more operator-level coverage on average and 8.6 more exceptions captured.

Fuzz Testing based Data Augmentation to Improve Robustness of Deep Neural Networks (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Deep neural networks (DNN) have been shown to be notoriously brittle to small perturbations in their input data. This problem is analogous to the over-fitting problem in test-based program synthesis and automatic program repair, which is a consequence of the incomplete specification, the limited tests or training examples, that the program synthesis or repair algorithm has to learn from. Recently, test generation techniques have been successfully employed to augment existing specifications of intended program behavior, to improve the generalizability of program synthesis and repair. Inspired by these approaches, in this paper, we propose a technique that re-purposes software testing methods, specifically mutation-based fuzzing, to augment the training data of DNNs, with the objective of enhancing their robustness. Our technique casts the DNN data augmentation problem as an optimization problem. It uses genetic search to generate the most suitable variant of an input data to use for training the DNN, while simultaneously identifying opportunities to accelerate training by skipping augmentation in many instances. We instantiate this technique in two tools, SENSEI and SENSEI-SA, and evaluate them on 15 DNN models spanning 5 popular image data-sets. Our evaluation shows that SENSEI can improve the robust accuracy of the DNN, compared to the state of the art, on each of the 15 models, by upto 11.9% and 5.5% on average. Further, SENSEI-SA can reduce the average DNN training time by 25%, while still improving robust accuracy.

Coverage Guided Differential Adversarial Testing of Deep Learning Systems (TNSE 2020)

Abstract: Deep learning is increasingly applied to safety-critical application domains such as autonomous cars and medical devices. It is of significant importance to ensure their reliability and robustness. In this paper, we propose DLFuzz, the coverage guided differential adversarial testing framework to guide deep learing systems exposing incorrect behaviors. DLFuzz keeps minutely mutating the input to maximize the neuron coverage and the prediction difference between the original input and the mutated input, without manual labeling effort or cross-referencing oracles from other systems with the same functionality. We also design multiple novel strategies for neuron selection to improve the neuron coverage. The incorrect behaviors obtained by DLFuzz are then exploited for retraining and improving the dependability of the models. We present empirical evaluations on two well-known datasets to demonstrate its effectiveness. Compared with DeepXplore, the state-of-the-art deep learning white-box testing framework, DLFuzz does not require extra efforts to find similar functional deep learning systems for cross-referencing check. But DLFuzz could generate 338.59% more adversarial inputs with 89.82% smaller perturbations, while maintaining the identities of the original inputs. DLFuzz also managed to averagely obtain 2.86% higher neuron coverage, and save 20.11% time consumption with respect to DeepXplore. We then evaluate the effectiveness of strategies for neuron selection, and demonstrated that all these strategies perform better than DeepXplore. Finally, DLFuzz proved to be able to improve the accuracy of deep learning systems by incorporating these adversarial inputs to retrain.

CAGFuzz: Coverage-Guided Adversarial Generative Fuzzing Testing of Deep Learning Systems (2019)

Abstract: Deep Learning systems (DL) based on Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) are more and more used in various aspects of our life, including unmanned vehicles, speech processing, and robotics. However, due to the limited dataset and the dependence on manual labeling data, DNNs often fail to detect their erroneous behaviors, which may lead to serious problems. Several approaches have been proposed to enhance the input examples for testing DL systems. However, they have the following limitations. First, they design and generate adversarial examples from the perspective of model, which may cause low generalization ability when they are applied to other models. Second, they only use surface feature constraints to judge the difference between the adversarial example generated and the original example. The deep feature constraints, which contain high-level semantic information, such as image object category and scene semantics are completely neglected. To address these two problems, in this paper, we propose CAGFuzz, a Coverage-guided Adversarial Generative Fuzzing testing approach, which generates adversarial examples for a targeted DNN to discover its potential defects. First, we train an adversarial case generator (AEG) from the perspective of general data set. Second, we extract the depth features of the original and adversarial examples, and constrain the adversarial examples by cosine similarity to ensure that the semantic information of adversarial examples remains unchanged. Finally, we retrain effective adversarial examples to improve neuron testing coverage rate. Based on several popular data sets, we design a set of dedicated experiments to evaluate CAGFuzz. The experimental results show that CAGFuzz can improve the neuron coverage rate, detect hidden errors, and also improve the accuracy of the target DNN.

DeepHunter: A Coverage-Guided Fuzz Testing Framework for Deep Neural Networks (ISSTA 2019)

Abstract: In company with the data explosion over the past decade, deep neural network (DNN) based software has experienced unprecedented leap and is becoming the key driving force of many novel industrial applications, including many safety-critical scenarios such as autonomous driving. Despite great success achieved in various human intelligence tasks, similar to traditional software, DNNs could also exhibit incorrect behaviors caused by hidden defects causing severe accidents and losses. In this paper, we propose DeepHunter, an automated fuzz testing framework for hunting potential defects of general-purpose DNNs. DeepHunter performs metamorphic mutation to generate new semantically preserved tests, and leverages multiple plugable coverage criteria as feedback to guide the test generation from different perspectives. To be scalable towards practical-sized DNNs, DeepHunter maintains multiple tests in a batch, and prioritizes the tests selection based on active feedback. The effectiveness of DeepHunter is extensively investigated on 3 popular datasets (MNIST, CIFAR-10, ImageNet) and 7 DNNs with diverse complexities, under a large set of 6 coverage criteria as feedback. The large-scale experiments demonstrate that DeepHunter can (1) significantly boost the coverage with guidance; (2) generate useful tests to detect erroneous behaviors and facilitate the DNN model quality evaluation; (3) accurately capture potential defects during DNN quantization for platform migration

TensorFuzz: Debugging Neural Networks with Coverage-Guided Fuzzing (ICML 2019)

Abstract: Machine learning models are notoriously difficult to interpret and debug. This is particularly true of neural networks. In this work, we introduce automated software testing techniques for neural networks that are well-suited to discovering errors which occur only for rare inputs. Specifically, we develop coverage-guided fuzzing (CGF) methods for neural networks. In CGF, random mutations of inputs to a neural network are guided by a coverage metric toward the goal of satisfying user-specified constraints. We describe how fast approximate nearest neighbor algorithms can provide this coverage metric. We then discuss the application of CGF to the following goals: finding numerical errors in trained neural networks, generating disagreements between neural networks and quantized versions of those networks, and surfacing undesirable behavior in character level language models. Finally, we release an open source library called TensorFuzz that implements the described techniques.

DLFuzz: Differential Fuzzing Testing of Deep Learning Systems (FSE 2018)

Abstract: Deep learning (DL) systems are increasingly applied to safety-critical domains such as autonomous driving cars. It is of significant importance to ensure the reliability and robustness of DL systems. Existing testing methodologies always fail to include rare inputs in the testing dataset and exhibit low neuron coverage. In this paper, we propose DLFuzz, the frst differential fuzzing testing framework to guide DL systems exposing incorrect behaviors. DLFuzz keeps minutely mutating the input to maximize the neuron coverage and the prediction difference between the original input and the mutated input, without manual labeling effort or cross-referencing oracles from other DL systems with the same functionality. We present empirical evaluations on two well-known datasets to demonstrate its efficiency. Compared with DeepXplore, the state-of-the-art DL whitebox testing framework, DLFuzz does not require extra efforts to find similar functional DL systems for cross-referencing check, but could generate 338.59% more adversarial inputs with 89.82% smaller perturbations, averagely obtain 2.86% higher neuron coverage, and save 20.11% time consumption.

Data Flow Sensitive Fuzzing

GREYONE: Data Flow Sensitive Fuzzing (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Data flow analysis (e.g., dynamic taint analysis) has proven to be useful for guiding fuzzers to explore hard-to-reach code and find vulnerabilities. However, traditional taint analysis is labor-intensive, inaccurate and slow, affecting the fuzzing efficiency. Apart from taint, few data flow features are utilized. In this paper, we proposed a data flow sensitive fuzzing solution GREYONE. We first utilize the classic feature taint to guide fuzzing. A lightweight and sound fuzzing-driven taint inference (FTI) is adopted to infer taint of variables, by monitoring their value changes while mutating input bytes during fuzzing. With the taint, we propose a novel input prioritization model to determine which branch to explore, which bytes to mutate and how to mutate. Further, we use another data flow feature constraint conformance, i.e., the distance of tainted variables to values expected in untouched branches, to tune the evolution direction of fuzzing.

We implemented a prototype of GREYONE and evaluated it on the LAVA data set and 19 real-world programs. The results showed that it outperforms various state-of-the-art fuzzers in terms of both code coverage and vulnerability discovery. In the LAVA data set, GREYONE found all listed bugs and 336 more unlisted. In real-world programs, GREYONE on average found 2.12X unique program paths and 3.09X unique bugs than state-of-the-art evolutionary fuzzers, including AFL, VUzzer, CollAFL, Angora and Honggfuzz, Moreover, GREYONE on average found 1.2X unique program paths and 1.52X unique bugs than a state-of-the-art symbolic execution assisted fuzzer QSYM. In total, it found 105 new security bugs, of which 41 are confirmed by CVE.

Binary Fuzzing

Scalable Fuzzing of Program Binaries with E9AFL (ASE 2021)

Abstract: Greybox fuzzing is an effective method for software testing. Greybox fuzzers, e.g., AFL, use instrumentation to collect path coverage information to guide the test generation. The instrumentation is usually inserted by a modified compiler toolchain, meaning that the program must be recompiled in order to be compatible with greybox fuzzing. When source code is unavailable, or for projects with complex build systems, recompilation is not always feasible. In this paper, we present E9AFL, a fast and scalable tool that inserts AFL instrumentation to program binaries. E9AFL is built on top of the E9Patch static binary rewriting tool. To combat the overhead caused by binary instrumentation, E9AFL develops a set of optimization strategies. Evaluation results show that E9AFL outperforms existing binary instrumentation tools and achieves comparable performance with the compile time instrumentation.

STOCHFUZZ: Sound and Cost-effective Fuzzing of Stripped Binaries by Incremental and Stochastic Rewriting (S&P 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing stripped binaries poses many hard challenges as fuzzers require instrumenting binaries to collect runtime feedback for guiding input mutation. However, due to the lack of symbol information, correct instrumentation is difficult on stripped binaries. Existing techniques either rely on hardware and expensive dynamic binary translation engines such as QEMU, or makes impractical assumptions such as binaries do not have inlined data. We observe that fuzzing is a highly repetitive procedure providing a large number of trial-and-error opportunities. As such, we propose a novel incremental and stochastic rewriting technique StochFuzz that piggy-backs on the fuzzing procedure. It generates many different versions of rewritten binaries whose validity can be approved/disapproved by numerous fuzzing runs. Probabilistic analysis is used to aggregate evidence collected through the sample runs and improve rewriting. The process eventually converges on a correctly rewritten binary. We evaluate StochFuzz on two sets of real-world programs and compare with five other baselines. The results show that StochFuzz outperforms state-of-the-art binary-only fuzzers (e.g., e9patch, ddisasm, and RetroWrite) in terms of soundness and cost-effectiveness and achieves performance comparable to source-based fuzzers. StochFuzz is publicly available at https://github.com/ZhangZhuoSJTU/StochFuzz.

Coverage-guided binary fuzzing with rev.ng and llvm libfuzzer

Abstract: Software vulnerabilities remain one of the most significant threats challenging information security. Memory-unsafe programming languages such as C/C++ allow bugs that could be maliciously exploited in order to tamper with the system, exposing users to risk. Fuzzing is a widespread and effective software testing technique for discovering unknown security vulnerabilities, which consists in executing a program continuously with a large number of random inputs to cause a crash. Most state-of-the-art fuzzers are coverage-based, i.e., they leverage the code coverage to favour inputs that contribute at exploring new paths. The coverage is collected by instrumenting the program source code at compile time; and, intuitively, a higher code coverage can lead fuzzers to find more bugs. However, when it comes to fuzzing binary-only software (source-unavailable), compiler instrumentation is not possible, subjecting the field to further research.

rev.ng is a reverse engineering framework based on LLVM. It features a static binary translation tool that translates machine code into LLVM IR, a higher-level intermediate representation, independent from the input architecture, and suitable to perform a variety of analyses and transformations. From a security standpoint, it allows to instrument programs in order to analyze their behavior.

In this work, we propose a novel framework based on rev.ng and libFuzzer, the LLVM fuzz testing library, to perform coverage-guided binary fuzzing of executable programs. We show that our approach is fast, semantic-preserving and simply requires to implement the so-called fuzz target, a dedicated function that the fuzzer calls to pass its inputs to the interesting functions to fuzz, just as occurs for programs with source code available. We evaluate our framework on a real-world vulnerability and we show we manage to reproduce the bug successfully

Breaking Through Binaries: Compiler-quality Instrumentation for Better Binary-only Fuzzing (USENIX Security2021)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzzing is one of the most effective software security testing techniques. Fuzzing takes on one of two forms: compiler-based or binary-only, depending on the availability of source code. While the fuzzing community has improved compiler-based fuzzing with performanceand feedback-enhancing program transformations, binaryonly fuzzing lags behind due to the semantic and performance limitations of instrumenting code at the binary level. Many fuzzing use cases are binary-only (i.e., closed source). Thus, applying fuzzing-enhancing program transformations to binary-only fuzzing—without sacrificing performance—remains a compelling challenge.

This paper examines the properties required to achieve compiler-quality binary-only fuzzing instrumentation. Based on our findings, we design FIBRE: a platform for applying fuzzing-enhancing program transformation to binary-only targets—maintaining compiler-level performance. We showcase FIBRE’s capabilities in an implementation for the popular fuzzer AFL, including five compiler-style fuzzing-enhancing transformations, and evaluate it against the leading binaryonly fuzzing instrumenters AFL-QEMU and AFL-Dyninst. Across LAVA-M and real-world targets, FIBRE improves crash-finding by 26–96% and 37–131%; and throughput by 48–78% and 159–203% compared to AFL-Dyninst and AFLQEMU, respectively—while maintaining compiler-level of overhead of 27%. We also show that FIBRE supports realworld open- and closed-source software of varying size (10K–100MB), complexity (100–1M basic blocks), platform (Linux and Windows), and format (e.g., stripped and PIC).

WEIZZ: Automatic Grey-box Fuzzing for Structured Binary Formats

Abstract: Fuzzing technologies have evolved at a fast pace in recent years, revealing bugs in programs with ever increasing depth and speed. Applications working with complex formats are however more difficult to take on, as inputs need to meet certain format-specific characteristics to get through the initial parsing stage and reach deeper behaviors of the program.

Unlike prior proposals based on manually written format specifications, we propose a technique to automatically generate and mutate inputs for unknown chunk-based binary formats. We identify dependencies between input bytes and comparison instructions, and use them to assign tags that characterize the processing logic of the program. Tags become the building block for structure-aware mutations involving chunks and fields of the input.

Our technique can perform comparably to structure-aware fuzzing proposals that require human assistance. Our prototype implementation WEIZZ revealed 16 unknown bugs in widely used programs.

Ptrix: Efficient Hardware-Assisted Fuzzing for COTS Binary (ASIACCS 2019)

Abstract: Despite its effectiveness in uncovering software defects, American Fuzzy Lop (AFL), one of the best grey-box fuzzers, is inefficient when fuzz-testing source-unavailable programs. AFL’s binary-only fuzzing mode, QEMU-AFL, is typically 2-5X slower than its source-available fuzzing mode. The slowdown is largely caused by the heavy dynamic instrumentation. Recent fuzzing techniques use Intel Processor Tracing (PT), a light-weight tracing feature supported by recent Intel CPUs, to remove the need of dynamic instrumentation. However, we found that these PT-based fuzzing techniques are even slower than QEMU-AFL when fuzzing real-world programs, making them less effective than QEMU-AFL. This poor performance is caused by the slow extraction of code coverage information from highly compressed PT traces. In this work, we present the design and implementation of PTrix, which fully unleashes the benefits of PT for fuzzing via three novel techniques. First, PTrix introduces a scheme to highly parallel the processing of PT trace and target program execution. Second, it directly takes decoded PT trace as feedback for fuzzing, avoiding the expensive reconstruction of code coverage information. Third, PTrix maintains the new feedback with stronger feedback than edge-based code coverage, which helps reach new code space and defects that AFL may not. We evaluated PTrix by comparing its performance with the state-of-the-art fuzzers. Our results show that, given the same amount of time, PTrix achieves a significantly higher fuzzing speed and reaches into code regions missed by the other fuzzers. In addition, PTrix identifies 35 new vulnerabilities in a set of previously well-fuzzed binaries, showing its ability to complement existing fuzzers.

Steelix: Program-State Based Binary Fuzzing (FSE 2017)

Abstract: Coverage-based fuzzing is one of the most effective techniques to find vulnerabilities, bugs or crashes. However, existing techniques suffer from the difficulty in exercising the paths that are protected by magic bytes comparisons (e.g., string equality comparisons). Several approaches have been proposed to use heavy-weight program analysis to break through magic bytes comparisons, and hence are less scalable. In this paper, we propose a program-state based binary fuzzing approach, named Steelix, which improves the penetration power of a fuzzer at the cost of an acceptable slow down of the execution speed. In particular, we use light-weight static analysis and binary instrumentation to provide not only coverage information but also comparison progress information to a fuzzer. Such program state information informs a fuzzer about where the magic bytes are located in the test input and how to perform mutations to match the magic bytes efficiently. We have implemented Steelix and evaluated it on three datasets: LAVA-M dataset, DARPA CGC sample binaries and five real-life programs. The results show that Steelix has better code coverage and bug detection capability than the state-of-the-art fuzzers. Moreover, we found one CVE and nine new bugs.

Smart Contracts

HFContractFuzzer: Fuzzing Hyperledger Fabric Smart Contracts for Vulnerability Detection (EASE 2021)

Abstract: With its unique advantages such as decentralization and immutability, blockchain technology has been widely used in various fields in recent years. The smart contract running on the blockchain is also playing an increasingly important role in decentralized application scenarios. Therefore, the automatic detection of security vulnerabilities in smart contracts has become an urgent problem in the application of blockchain technology. Hyperledger Fabric is a smart contract platform based on enterprise-level licensed distributed ledger technology. However, the research on the vulnerability detection technology of Hyperledger Fabric smart contracts is still in its infancy. In this paper, we propose HFContractFuzzer, a method based on Fuzzing technology to detect Hyperledger Fabric smart contracts, which combines a Fuzzing tool for golang named go-fuzz and smart contracts written by golang. We use HFContractFuzzer to detect vulnerabilities in five contracts from typical sources and discover that four of them have security vulnerabilities, proving the effectiveness of the proposed method.

sFuzz: An Efficient Adaptive Fuzzer for Solidity Smart Contracts (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Smart contracts are Turing-complete programs that execute on the infrastructure of the blockchain, which often manage valuable digital assets. Solidity is one of the most popular programming languages for writing smart contracts on the Ethereum platform.Like traditional programs, smart contracts may contain vulnerabilities. Unlike traditional programs, smart contracts cannot be easily patched once they are deployed. It is thus important that smart contracts are tested thoroughly before deployment. In this work, we present an adaptive fuzzer for smart contracts on the Ethereum platform called sFuzz. Compared to existing Solidity fuzzers, sFuzz combines the strategy in the AFL fuzzer and an efficient lightweight multi-objective adaptive strategy targeting those hard-to-cover branches. sFuzz has been applied to more than 4 thousand smart contracts and the experimental results show that (1) sFuzz is efficient, e.g., two order of magnitudes faster than state-of-the-art tools; (2) sFuzz is effective in achieving high code coverage and discovering vulnerabilities; and (3) the different fuzzing strategies in sFuzz complement each other.

Targeted Greybox Fuzzing with Static Lookahead Analysis (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Automatic test generation typically aims to generate inputs that explore new paths in the program under test in order to find bugs. Existing work has, therefore, focused on guiding the exploration toward program parts that are more likely to contain bugs by using an offline static analysis.

In this paper, we introduce a novel technique for targeted greybox fuzzing using an online static analysis that guides the fuzzer toward a set of target locations, for instance, located in recently modified parts of the program. This is achieved by first semantically analyzing each program path that is explored by an input in the fuzzer’s test suite. The results of this analysis are then used to control the fuzzer’s specialized power schedule, which determines how often to fuzz inputs from the test suite. We implemented our technique by extending a state-of-the-art, industrial fuzzer for Ethereum smart contracts and evaluate its effectiveness on 27 real-world benchmarks. Using an online analysis is particularly suitable for the domain of smart contracts since it does not require any code instrumentation—adding instrumentation to contracts changes their semantics. Our experiments show that targeted fuzzing significantly outperforms standard greybox fuzzing for reaching 83% of the challenging target locations (up to 14x of median speed-up).

Learning to Fuzz from Symbolic Execution with Application to Smart Contracts (CCS 2019)

Abstract: Fuzzing and symbolic execution are two complementary techniques for discovering software vulnerabilities. Fuzzing is fast and scalable, but can be ineffective when it fails to randomly select the right inputs. Symbolic execution is thorough but slow and often does not scale to deep program paths with complex path conditions.

In this work, we propose to learn an effective and fast fuzzer from symbolic execution, by phrasing the learning task in the framework of imitation learning. During learning, a symbolic execution expert generates a large number of quality inputs improving coverage on thousands of programs. Then, a fuzzing policy, represented with a suitable architecture of neural networks, is trained on the generated dataset. The learned policy can then be used to fuzz new programs.

We instantiate our approach to the problem of fuzzing smart contracts, a domain where contracts often implement similar functionality (facilitating learning) and security is of utmost importance. We present an end-to-end system, ILF (for Imitation Learning based Fuzzer), and an extensive evaluation over >18K contracts. Our results show that ILF is effective: (i) it is fast, generating 148 transactions per second, (ii) it outperforms existing fuzzers (e.g., achieving 33% more coverage), and (iii) it detects more vulnerabilities than existing fuzzing and symbolic execution tools for Ethereum.

ContractFuzzer: Fuzzing Smart Contracts for Vulnerability Detection (ASE 2018)

Abstract: Decentralized cryptocurrencies feature the use of blockchain to transfer values among peers on networks without central agency. Smart contracts are programs running on top of the blockchain consensus protocol to enable people make agreements while minimizing trusts. Millions of smart contracts have been deployed in various decentralized applications. The security vulnerabilities within those smart contracts pose significant threats to their applications. Indeed, many critical security vulnerabilities within smart contracts on Ethereum platform have caused huge financial losses to their users. In this work, we present ContractFuzzer, a novel fuzzer to test Ethereum smart contracts for security vulnerabilities. ContractFuzzer generates fuzzing inputs based on the ABI specifications of smart contracts, defines test oracles to detect security vulnerabilities, instruments the EVM to log smart contracts runtime behaviors, and analyzes these logs to report security vulnerabilities. Our fuzzing of 6991 smart contracts has flagged more than 459 vulnerabilities with high precision. In particular, our fuzzing tool successfully detects the vulnerability of the DAO contract that leads to USD 60 million loss and the vulnerabilities of Parity Wallet that have led to the loss of USD 30 million and the freezing of USD 150 million worth of Ether.

Constraint Solving

Fuzzing Symbolic Expressions (ICSE 2021)

Abstract: Recent years have witnessed a wide array of results in software testing, exploring different approaches and methodologies ranging from fuzzers to symbolic engines, with a full spectrum of instances in between such as concolic execution and hybrid fuzzing. A key ingredient of many of these tools is Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT) solvers, which are used to reason over symbolic expressions collected during the analysis. In this paper, we investigate whether techniques borrowed from the fuzzing domain can be applied to check whether symbolic formulas are satisfiable in the context of concolic and hybrid fuzzing engines, providing a viable alternative to classic SMT solving techniques. We devise a new approximate solver, \fuzzysat, and show that it is both competitive with and complementary to state-of-the-art solvers such as Z3 with respect to handling queries generated by hybrid fuzzers.

Just Fuzz It: Solving Floating-Point Constraints Using Coverage-guided Fuzzing (FSE 2019)

Abstract: We investigate the use of coverage-guided fuzzing as a means of proving satisfiability of SMT formulas over finite variable domains, with specific application to floating-point constraints.We showhow an SMT formula can be encoded as a program containing a location that is reachable if and only if the program’s input corresponds to a satisfying assignment to the formula. A coverage-guided fuzzer can then be used to search for an input that reaches the location, yielding a satisfying assignment. We have implemented this idea in a tool, Just Fuzz-it Solver (JFS), and we present a large experimental evaluation showing that JFS is both competitive with and complementary to state-of-the-art SMT solvers with respect to solving floating-point constraints, and that the coverage-guided approach of JFS provides significant benefit over naive fuzzing in the floating-point domain. Applied in a portfolio manner, the JFS approach thus has the potential to complement traditional SMT solvers for program analysis tasks that involve reasoning about floating-point constraints.

Side-Channel Detection

QFuzz: Quantitative Fuzzing for Side Channels (ISSTA 2021)

Abstract: Side channels pose a significant threat to the confidentiality of software systems. Such vulnerabilities are challenging to detect and evaluate because they arise from non-functional properties of software such as execution times and require reasoning on multiple execution traces. Recently, noninterference notions have been adapted in static analysis, symbolic execution, and greybox fuzzing techniques. However, noninterference is a strict notion and may reject security even if the strength of information leaks are weak. A quantitative notion of security allows for the relaxation of noninterference and tolerates small (unavoidable) leaks. Despite progress in recent years, the existing quantitative approaches have scalability limitations in practice.

In this work, we present QFuzz, a greybox fuzzing technique to quantitatively evaluate the strength of side channels with a focus on min entropy. Min entropy is a measure based on the number of distinguishable observations (partitions) to assess the resulting threat from an attacker who tries to compromise secrets in one try. We develop a novel greybox fuzzing equipped with two partitioning algorithms that try to maximize the number of distinguishable observations and the cost differences between them.

We evaluate QFuzz on a large set of benchmarks from existing work and real-world libraries (with a total of 70 subjects). QFuzz compares favorably to three state-of-the-art detection techniques. QFuzz provides quantitative information about leaks beyond the capabilities of all three techniques. Crucially, we compare QFuzz to a state-of-the-art quantification tool and find that QFuzz significantly outperforms the tool in scalability while maintaining similar precision. Overall, we find that our approach scales well for real-world applications and provides useful information to evaluate resulting threats. Additionally, QFuzz identifies a zero-day side-channel vulnerability in a security critical Java library that has since been confirmed and fixed by the developers.

JVM Fuzzing for JIT-Induced Side-Channel Detection (ICSE 2020)

Abstract: Timing side channels arise in software when a program’s execution time can be correlated with security-sensitive program input. Recent results on software side-channel detection focus on analysis of program’s source code. However, runtime behavior, in particular optimizations introduced during just-in-time (JIT) compilation, can impact or even introduce timing side channels in programs. In this paper, we present a technique for automatically detecting such JIT-induced timing side channels in Java programs. We first introduce patterns to detect partitions of secret input potentially separable by side channels. Then we present an automated approach for exploring behaviors of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to identify states where timing channels separating these partitions arise. We evaluate our technique on three datasets used in recent work on side-channel detection. We find that many code variants labeled ``safe’’ with respect to side-channel vulnerabilities are in fact vulnerable to JIT-induced timing side channels. Our results directly contradict the conclusions of four separate state-of-the-art program analysis tools for side-channel detection and demonstrate that JIT-induced side channels are prevalent and can be detected automatically

ct-fuzz: Fuzzing for Timing Leaks (ICST 2020)

Abstract: Testing-based methodologies like fuzzing are able to analyze complex software which is not amenable to traditional formal approaches like verification, model checking, and abstract interpretation. Despite enormous success at exposing countless security vulnerabilities in many popular software projects, applications of testing-based approaches have mainly targeted checking traditional safety properties like memory safety. While unquestionably important, this class of properties does not precisely characterize other important security aspects such as information leakage, e.g., through side channels. In this work we extend testing-based software analysis methodologies to two-safety properties, which enables the precise discovery of information leaks in complex software. In particular, we present the ct-fuzz tool, which lends coverage-guided greybox fuzzers the ability to detect two-safety property violations. Our approach is capable of exposing violations to any two-safety property expressed as equality between two program traces. Empirically, we demonstrate that ct-fuzz swiftly reveals timing leaks in popular cryptographic implementations.

Concurrency Fuzzing

Fuzzing Channel-Based Concurrency Runtimes using Types and Effects Slides (OOPSLA 2021)

Abstract: Modern programming languages support concurrent programming based on channels and processes. Channels enable synchronous and asynchronous message-passing between independent light-weight processes making it easy to express common concurrency patterns. The implementation of channels and processes in compilers and language runtimes is a difficult task that relies heavily on traditional and error-prone low-level concurrency primitives, raising concerns about correctness and reliability. In this paper, we present an automatic program generation technique to test such programming language implementations. We define a type and effect system for programs that communicate over channels and where every execution is guaranteed to eventually terminate. We can generate and run such programs, and if a program fails to terminate, we have found a bug in the programming language implementation. We implement such an automatic program generator and apply it to Go, Kotlin, Crystal, and Flix. We find two new bugs in Flix, and reproduce two bugs; one in Crystal and one in Kotlin.

MUZZ: Thread-aware Grey-box Fuzzing for Effective Bug Hunting in Multithreaded Programs (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Grey-box fuzz testing has revealed thousands of vulnerabilities in real-world software owing to its lightweight instrumentation, fast coverage feedback, and dynamic adjusting strategies. However, directly applying grey-box fuzzing to input-dependent multithreaded programs can be extremely inefficient. In practice, multithreading-relevant bugs are usually buried in the sophisticated program flows. Meanwhile, existing grey-box fuzzing techniques do not stress thread-interleavings that affect execution states in multithreaded programs. Therefore, mainstream grey-box fuzzers cannot adequately test problematic segments in multithreaded software, although they might obtain high code coverage statistics.

To this end, we propose Muzz, a new grey-box fuzzing technique that hunts for bugs in multithreaded programs. Muzz owns three novel thread-aware instrumentations, namely coverage-oriented instrumentation, thread-context instrumentation, and schedule-intervention instrumentation. During fuzzing, these instrumentations engender runtime feedback to accentuate execution states caused by thread interleavings. By leveraging such feedback in the dynamic seed selection and execution strategies, Muzz preserves more valuable seeds that expose bugs under a multithreading context.

We evaluate Muzz on twelve real-world multithreaded programs. Experiments show that Muzz outperforms AFL in both multithreading-relevant seed generation and concurrency-vulnerability detection. Further, by replaying the target programs against the generated seeds, Muzz also reveals more concurrency-bugs (e.g., data-races, thread-leaks) than AFL. In total, Muzz detected eight new concurrency-vulnerabilities and nineteen new concurrency-bugs. At the time of writing, four reported issues have received CVE IDs.

KRace: Data Race Fuzzing for Kernel File Systems (S&P 2020)

Abstract: Data races occur when two threads fail to use proper synchronization when accessing shared data. In kernel file systems, which are highly concurrent by design, data races are common mistakes and often wreak havoc on the users, causing inconsistent states or data losses. Prior fuzzing practices on file systems have been effective in uncovering hundreds of bugs, but they mostly focus on the sequential aspect of file system execution and do not comprehensively explore the concurrency dimension and hence, forgo the opportunity to catch data races.

In this paper, we bring coverage-guided fuzzing to the concurrency dimension with three new constructs: 1) a new coverage tracking metric, alias coverage, specially designed to capture the exploration progress in the concurrency dimension; 2) an evolution algorithm for generating, mutating, and merging multithreaded syscall sequences as inputs for concurrency fuzzing; and 3) a comprehensive lockset and happens-before modeling for kernel synchronization primitives for precise data race detection. These components are integrated into KRACE, an end-to-end fuzzing framework that has discovered 23 data races in ext4, btrfs, and the VFS layer so far, and 9 are confirmed to be harmful.

ConFuzz: A Concurrency Fuzzer (2019)

Abstract: Concurrency bugs are as equally vulnerable as the bugs found in the single-threaded programs and these bugs can be exploited using concurrency attacks. Unfortunately, there is not much literature available in detecting various kinds of concurrency issues in a multi-threaded program due to its complexity and uncertainty. In this paper, we aim at detecting concurrency bugs by using directed evolutionary fuzzing with the help of static analysis of the source code. Concurrency bug detection involves two main entities: an input and a particular thread execution order. The evolutionary part of fuzzing will prefer inputs that involve memory access patterns across threads (data flow interleaving) and thread ordering that disturb the data dependence more and direct them to trigger concurrency bugs. This paper suggests the idea of a concurrency fuzzer, which is first of its kind. We use a combination of LLVM, Thread Sanitizer and fuzzing techniques to detect various concurrency issues in an application. The source code of the application is statically analyzed for various paths, from the different thread related function calls to the main function. Every basic block in these paths are assigned a unique ID and a weight based on the distance of the basic block from the thread function calls. These basic blocks are instrumented to print their ID and weight upon execution. The knowledge about the basic blocks in the sliced paths are used to generate new sets of inputs from the old ones, thus covering even more basic blocks in the path and thereby increasing the chances of hitting a concurrency warning. We use Thread Sanitizer present in the LLVM compiler infrastructure to detect the concurrency bug warnings while executing each input. The inputs are directed to discover even new address locations with possible concurrency issues. The system was tested on three simple multi-threaded applications pigz, pbzip2, and pixz. The results show a quicker detection of unique addresses in the application with possible concurrency issues.

A Heuristic Framework to Detect Concurrency Vulnerabilities (ACSAC 2018)

Abstract: With a growing demand of concurrent software to exploit multi-core hardware capability, concurrency vulnerabilities have become an inevitable threat to the security of today’s IT industry. Existing concurrent program detection schemes focus mainly on detecting concurrency errors such as data races, atomicity violation, etc., with little attention paid to detect concurrency vulnerabilities that may be exploited to infringe security. In this paper, we propose a heuristic framework that combines both static analysis and fuzz testing to detect targeted concurrency vulnerabilities such as concurrency buffer overflow, double free, and use-after-free. The static analysis locates sensitive concurrent operations in a concurrent program, categorizes each finding into a potential type of concurrency vulnerability, and determines the execution order of the sensitive operations in each finding that would trigger the suspected concurrency vulnerability. The results are then plugged into the fuzzer with the execution order fixed by the static analysis in order to trigger the suspected concurrency vulnerabilities.

In order to introduce more variance which increases possibility that the concurrency errors can be triggered, we also propose manipulation of thread scheduling priority to enable a fuzzer such as AFL to effectively explore thread interleavings in testing a concurrent program. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first fuzzer that is capable of effectively exploring concurrency errors.

In evaluating the proposed heuristic framework with a benchmark suit of six real-world concurrent C programs, the framework detected two concurrency vulnerabilities for the proposed concurrency vulnerability detection, both being confirmed to be true positives, and produced three new crashes for the proposed interleaving exploring fuzzer that existing fuzzers could not produce. These results demonstrate the power and effectiveness of the proposed heuristic framework in detecting concurrency errors and vulnerabilities.

API Fuzzing

Intelligent REST API Data Fuzzing (FSE 2020)

Abstract: The cloud runs on REST APIs. In this paper, we study how to intelligently generate data payloads embedded in REST API requests in order to find data-processing bugs in cloud services. We discuss how to leverage REST API specifications, which, by definition, contain data schemas for API request bodies. We then propose and evaluate a range of data fuzzing techniques, including structural schema fuzzing rules, various rule combinations, search heuristics, extracting data values from examples included in REST API specifications, and learning data values on-the-fly from previous service responses. After evaluating these techniques, we identify the top-performing combination and use this algorithm to fuzz several Microsoft Azure cloud services. During our experiments, we found 100s of “Internal Server Error” service crashes, which we triaged into 17 unique bugs and reported to Azure developers. All these bugs are reproducible, confirmed, and fixed or in the process of being fixed.

REST-ler: Stateful REST API Fuzzing (ICSE 2019)

Abstract: This paper introduces REST-ler, the first stateful REST API fuzzer. REST-ler analyzes the API specification of a cloud service and generates sequences of requests that automatically test the service through its API. REST-ler generates test sequences by (1) inferring producer-consumer dependencies among request types declared in the specification (eg inferring that “a request B should be executed after request A” because B takes as an input a resource-id x produced by A) and by (2) analyzing dynamic feedback from responses observed during prior test executions in order to generate new tests (eg learning that “a request C after a request sequence A;B is refused by the service” and therefore avoiding this combination in the future). We present experimental results showing that these two techniques are necessary to thoroughly exercise a service under test while pruning the large search space of possible request sequences. We used REST-ler to test GitLab, a large open-source self-hosted Git service, as well as several Microsoft Azure and Office365 cloud services. REST-ler found 28 bugs in Gitlab and several bugs in each of the Azure and Office365 cloud services tested so far. These bugs have been confirmed by the service owners, and are either in the process of being fixed or have already been fixed.

Fuzzing JavaScript Environment APIs with Interdependent Function Calls (IFM 2019)

Abstract: The prevalence of the JavaScript programming language makes the correctness and security of its execution environments highly important. The most exposed and vulnerable parts of these environments are the APIs published to the executed untrusted JavaScript programs. This paper revisits the fuzzing technique that generates JavaScript environment API calls using random walks on so-called prototype graphs to uncover potentially security-related failures. We show the limits of generating independent call expressions, the approach of prior work, and give an extension to enable the generation of interdependent API calls that re-use each other’s results. We demonstrate with an experiment that this enhancement allows our approach to exercise JavaScript environment APIs in ways that were not possible with the previous approach, and that it can also trigger more issues in a real target.

Other Interesting Fuzzing

Hardware Support to Improve Fuzzing Performance and Precision (CCS 2021)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzzing is considered one of the most efficient bug-finding techniques, given its number of bugs reported. However, coverage tracing provided by existing software-based approaches, such as source instrumentation and dynamic binary translation, can incur large overhead. Hindered by the significantly lowered execution speed, it also becomes less beneficial to improve coverage feedback by incorporating additional execution states. In this paper, we propose SNAP, a customized hardware platform that implements hardware primitives to enhance the performance and precision of coverage-guided fuzzing. By sitting at the bottom of the computer stack, SNAP leverages the existing CPU pipeline and micro-architectural features to provide coverage tracing and rich execution semantics with near-zero cost regardless of source code availability. Prototyped as a synthesized RISC-V BOOM processor on FPGA, SNAP incurs a barely 3.1% tracing overhead on the SPEC benchmarks while achieving a 228× higher fuzzing throughput than the existing software-based solution. Posing only a 4.8% area and 6.5% power overhead, SNAP is highly practical and can be adopted by existing CPU architectures with minimal changes.

Rtkaller: State-aware Task Generation for RTOS Fuzzing (EMSOFT 2021)

Abstract: A real-time operating system (RTOS) is an operating system designed to meet certain real-time requirements. It is widely used in embedded applications, and its correctness is safety-critical. However, the validation of RTOS is challenging due to its complex real-time features and large code base.

In this paper, we propose Rtkaller, a state-aware kernel fuzzer for the vulnerability detection in RTOS. First, Rtkaller implements an automatic task initialization to transform the syscall sequences into initial tasks with more real-time information. Then, a coverage-guided task mutation is designed to generate those tasks that explore more in-depth real-time related code for parallel execution. Moreover, Rtkaller realizes a task modification to correct those tasks that may hang during fuzzing. We evaluated it on recent versions of rt-Linux, which is one of the most widely used RTOS. Compared to the state-of-the-art kernel fuzzers Syzkaller and Moonshine, Rtkaller achieves the same code coverage at the speed of 1.7X and 1.6X , gains an increase of 26.1% and 22.0% branch coverage within 24 hours respectively. More importantly, Rtkaller has confirmed 28 previously unknown vulnerabilities that are missed by other fuzzers.

Neural Network Guided Evolutionary Fuzzing for Finding Traffic Violations of Autonomous Vehicles (arXiv 2021)

Abstract: Self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous vehicles (AVs), should not be accepted by regulatory bodies and the public until they have much higher confidence in their safety and reliability – which can most practically and convincingly be achieved by testing. But existing testing methods are inadequate for checking the end-to-end behaviors of AV controllers against complex, real-world corner cases involving interactions with multiple independent agents such as pedestrians and human-driven vehicles. While test-driving AVs on streets and highways fails to capture many rare events, existing simulation-based testing methods mainly focus on simple scenarios and do not scale well for complex driving situations that require sophisticated awareness of the surroundings. To address these limitations, we propose a new fuzz testing technique, called AutoFuzz, which can leverage widely-used AV simulators’ API grammars. to generate semantically and temporally valid complex driving scenarios (sequences of scenes). AutoFuzz is guided by a constrained Neural Network (NN) evolutionary search over the API grammar to generate scenarios seeking to find unique traffic violations. Evaluation of our prototype on one state-of-the-art learning-based controller and two rule-based controllers shows that AutoFuzz efficiently finds hundreds of realistic traffic violations resembling real-world crashes. Further, fine-tuning the learning-based controller with the traffic violations found by AutoFuzz successfully reduced the traffic violations found in the new version of the AV controller software.

Fuzzing: Cyberphysical System Testing for Security and Dependability (Computer 2021)

Abstract: Fuzz testing enables automated remote testing of cyberphysical and Internet of Things systems. The selection of effective test vector sequences is critical and a natural domain for the employment of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques that incorporate successful selection criteria.

ESRFuzzer: an enhanced fuzzing framework for physical SOHO router devices to discover multi-Type vulnerabilities (Cybersecurity 2021)

Abstract: SOHO (small office/home office) routers provide services for end devices to connect to the Internet, playing an important role in cyberspace. Unfortunately, security vulnerabilities pervasively exist in these routers, especially in the web server modules, greatly endangering end users. To discover these vulnerabilities, fuzzing web server modules of SOHO routers is the most popular solution. However, its effectiveness is limited due to the lack of input specification, lack of routers’ internal running states, and lack of testing environment recovery mechanisms. Moreover, existing works for device fuzzing are more likely to detect memory corruption vulnerabilities.In this paper, we propose a solution ESRFuzzer to address these issues. It is a fully automated fuzzing framework for testing physical SOHO devices. It continuously and effectively generates test cases by leveraging two input semantic models, i.e., KEY-VALUE data model and CONF-READ communication model, and automatically recovers the testing environment with power management. It also coordinates diversified mutation rules with multiple monitoring mechanisms to trigger multi-type vulnerabilities. With the guidance of the two semantic models, ESRFuzzer can work in two ways: general mode fuzzing and D-CONF mode fuzzing. General mode fuzzing can discover both issues which occur in the CONF and READ operation, while D-CONF mode fuzzing focus on the READ-op issues especially missed by general mode fuzzing.We ran ESRFuzzer on 10 popular routers across five vendors. In total, it discovered 136 unique issues, 120 of which have been confirmed as 0-day vulnerabilities we found. As an improvement of SRFuzzer, ESRFuzzer have discovered 35 previous undiscovered READ-op issues that belong to three vulnerability types, and 23 of them have been confirmed as 0-day vulnerabilities by vendors. The experimental results show that ESRFuzzer outperforms state-of-the-art solutions in terms of types and number of vulnerabilities found.

Estimating Residual Risk in Greybox Fuzzing (FSE 2021)

Abstract: For any errorless fuzzing campaign, no matter how long, there is always some residual risk that a software error would be discovered if only the campaign was run for just a bit longer. Recently, greybox fuzzing tools have found widespread adoption. Yet, practitioners can only guess when the residual risk of a greybox fuzzing campaign falls below a specific, maximum allowable threshold.

In this paper, we explain why residual risk cannot be directly estimated for greybox campaigns, argue that the discovery probability (i.e., the probability that the next generated input increases code coverage) provides an excellent upper bound, and explore sound statistical methods to estimate the discovery probability in an ongoing greybox campaign. We find that estimators for blackbox fuzzing systematically and substantially \emph{under}-estimate the true risk. An engineer—who stops the campaign when the estimators purport a risk below the maximum allowable risk—is vastly misled. She might need execute a campaign that is orders of magnitude longer to achieve the allowable risk. Hence, the \emph{key challenge} we address in this paper is \emph{adaptive bias}: The probability to discover a specific error actually increases over time. We provide the first probabilistic analysis of adaptive bias, and introduce two novel classes of estimators that tackle adaptive bias. With our estimators, the engineer can decide with confidence when to abort the campaign.

HeteroFuzz: Fuzz Testing to Detect Platform Dependent Divergence for Heterogeneous Applications (FSE 2021)

Abstract: As specialized hardware accelerators like FPGAs become a prominent part of the current computing landscape, software applications are increasingly constructed to leverage heterogeneous architectures. Such a trend is already happening in the domain of machine learning and Internet-of-Things (IoT) systems built on edge devices. Yet, debugging and testing methods for heterogeneous applications are currently lacking. These applications may look similar to regular C/C++ code but include hardware synthesis details in terms of preprocessor directives. Therefore, their behavior under heterogeneous architectures may diverge significantly from CPU due to hardware synthesis details. Further, the compilation and hardware simulation cycle takes an enormous amount of time, prohibiting frequent invocations required for fuzz testing.

We propose a novel fuzz testing technique, called HeteroFuzz, designed to specifically target heterogeneous applications and to detect platform-dependent divergence. The key essence of HeteroFuzz is that it uses a three-pronged approach to reduce the long latency of repetitively invoking a hardware simulator on a heterogeneous application. First, in addition to monitoring code coverage as a fuzzing guidance mechanism, we analyze synthesis pragmas in kernel code and monitor accelerator-relevant value spectra. Second, we design dynamic probabilistic mutations to increase the chance of hitting divergent behavior under different platforms. Third, we memorize the boundaries of seen kernel inputs and skip HLS simulator invocation if it can expose only redundant divergent behavior. We evaluate HeteroFuzz on seven real-world heterogeneous applications with FPGA kernels. HeteroFuzz is 754X faster in exposing the same set of distinct divergence symptoms than naive fuzzing. Probabilistic mutations contribute to 17.5X speed up than the one without. Selective invocation of HLS simulation contributes to 8.8X speed up than the one without.

DirectFuzz: Automated Test Generation for RTL Designs using Directed Graybox Fuzzing (DAC 2021)

Abstract: Abstract— A critical challenge in RTL verification is to generate effective test inputs. Recently, RFUZZ proposed to use an automated software testing technique, namely Graybox Fuzzing, to effectively generate test inputs to maximize the coverage of the whole hardware design. For a scenario where a tiny fraction of a large hardware design needs to be tested, the RFUZZ approach is extremely time consuming. In this work, we present DirectFuzz, a directed test generation mechanism. DirectFuzz uses Directed Graybox Fuzzing to generate test inputs targeted towards a module instance, which enables targeted testing. Our experimental results show that DirectFuzz covers the target sites up to 17.5× faster (2.23×on average) than RFUZZ on a variety of RTL designs.

PMFuzz: Test Case Generation for Persistent Memory Programs (ASPLOS 2021)

Abstract: This work provides PMFuzz, a fuzzer that automatically generates high-value test cases to detect crash consistency bugs in PM programs. The source of PMFuzz is publicly available at: https://github.com/Systems-ShiftLab/PMFuzz. We implement PMFuzz on top of a well-known fuzzer, AFL++ by incorporating our key insights, and evaluate PMFuzz in a real PM system with common PM programs, including keyvalue stores and databases.

PGFUZZ: Policy-Guided Fuzzing for Robotic Vehicles (NDSS 2021)

Abstract: Robotic vehicles (RVs) are becoming essential tools of modern systems, including autonomous delivery services, public transportation, and environment monitoring. Despite their diverse deployment, safety and security issues with RVs limit their wide adoption. Most attempts to date in RV security aim to propose defenses that harden their control program against syntactic bugs, input validation bugs, and external sensor spoofing attacks. In this paper, we introduce PGFUZZ, a policy-guided fuzzing framework, which validates whether an RV adheres to identified safety and functional policies that cover user commands, configuration parameters, and physical states. PGFUZZ expresses desired policies through temporal logic formulas with time constraints as a guide to fuzz the analyzed system. Specifically, it generates fuzzing inputs that minimize a distance metric measuring how close'' the RV current state is to a policy violation. In addition, it uses static and dynamic analysis to focus the fuzzing effort only on those commands, parameters, and environmental factors that influence thetruth value’’ of any of the exercised policies. The combination of these two techniques allows PGFUZZ to increase the efficiency of the fuzzing process significantly. We validate PGFUZZ on three RV control programs, ArduPilot, PX4, and Paparazzi, with 56 unique policies. PGFUZZ discovered 156 previously unknown bugs, 106 of which have been acknowledged by their developers.

IntelliGen: Automatic Driver Synthesis for Fuzz Testing (ICSE 2021 SEIP)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a technique widely used in vulnerability detection. The process usually involves writing effective fuzz driver programs, which, when done manually, can be extremely labor intensive. Previous attempts at automation leave much to be desired, in either degree of automation or quality of output. In this paper, we propose IntelliGen, a framework that constructs valid fuzz drivers automatically. First, IntelliGen determines a set of entry functions and evaluates their respective chance of exhibiting a vulnerability. Then, IntelliGen generates fuzz drivers for the entry functions through hierarchical parameter replacement and type inference. We implemented IntelliGen and evaluated its effectiveness on real-world programs selected from the Android Open-Source Project, Google’s fuzzer-testsuite and industrial collaborators. IntelliGen covered on average 1.08×-2.03× more basic blocks and 1.36×-2.06× more paths over state-of-the-art fuzz driver synthesizers FUDGE and FuzzGen. IntelliGen performed on par with manually written drivers and found 10 more bugs.

WINNIE: Fuzzing Windows Applications with Harness Synthesis and Fast Cloning (NDSS 2021)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an emerging technique to automatically validate programs and uncover bugs. It has been widely used to test many programs and has found thousands of security vulnerabilities. However, existing fuzzing efforts are mainly centered around Unix-like systems, as Windows imposes unique challenges for fuzzing: a closed-source ecosystem, the heavy use of graphical interfaces and the lack of fast process cloning machinery.

In this paper, we propose two solutions to address the challenges Windows fuzzing faces. Our system, WINNIE, first tries to synthesize a harness for the application, a simple program that directly invokes target functions, based on sample executions. It then tests the harness, instead of the original complicated program, using an efficient implementation of fork on Windows. Using these techniques, WINNIE can bypass irrelevant GUI code to test logic deep within the application. We used WINNIE to fuzz 59 closed-source Windows binaries, and it successfully generated valid fuzzing harnesses for all of them. In our evaluation, WINNIE can support 2.2× more programs than existing Windows fuzzers could, and identified 3.9× more program states and achieved 26.6× faster execution. In total, WINNIE found 61 unique bugs in 32 Windows binaries.

Industry Practice of Coverage-Guided Enterprise-Level DBMS Fuzzing (ICSE 2021)

Abstract: As an infrastructure for data persistence and analysis, Database Management Systems (DBMSs) are the cornerstones of modern enterprise software. To improve their correctness, the industry has been applying blackbox fuzzing for decades. Recently, the research community achieved impressive fuzzing gains using coverage guidance. However, due to the complexity and distributed nature of enterprise-level DBMSs, seldom are these researches applied to the industry.

In this paper, we apply coverage-guided fuzzing to enterprise-level DBMSs from Huawei and Bloomberg LP. In our practice of testing GaussDB and Comdb2, we found major challenges in all three testing stages. The challenges are collecting precise coverage, optimizing fuzzing performance, and analyzing root causes. In search of a general method to overcome these challenges, we propose RATEL, a coverage-guided fuzzer for enterprise-level DBMSs. With its industry-oriented design, RATEL improves the feedback precision, enhances the robustness of input generation, and performs an on-line investigation on the root cause of bugs. As a result, RATEL outperformed other fuzzers in terms of coverage and bugs. Compared to industrial black box fuzzers SQLsmith and SQLancer, as well as coverage-guided academic fuzzer Squirrel, RATEL covered 38.38%, 106.14%, 583.05% more basic blocks than the best results of other three fuzzers in GaussDB, PostgreSQL, and Comdb2, respectively. More importantly, RATEL has discovered 32, 42, and 5 unknown bugs in GaussDB, Comdb2, and PostgreSQL.

Refined Grey-Box Fuzzing with Sivo (arXiv 2021)

Abstract: We design and implement from scratch a new fuzzer called Sivo that refines multiple stages of grey-box fuzzing. First, Sivo refines dataflow fuzzing in two ways: (a) it provides a new taint inference engine that requires only logarithmic in the input size number of tests to infer the dependency of all program branches on the input bytes, and (b) it deploys a novel method for inverting branches by solving directly and efficiently systems of inequalities. Second, our fuzzer refines accurate tracking and detection of code coverage with simple and easily implementable methods. Finally, Sivo refines selection of parameters and strategies by parameterizing all stages of fuzzing and then dynamically selecting optimal values during fuzzing. Thus the fuzzer can easily adapt to a target program and rapidly increase coverage. We compare our fuzzer to 11 other state-of-the-art greybox fuzzers on 27 popular benchmarks. Our evaluation shows that Sivo scores the highest both in terms of code coverage and in terms of number of found vulnerabilities.

Fuzzing Hardware Like Software (arXiv 2021)

Abstract: Hardware flaws are permanent and potent: hardware cannot be patched once fabricated, and any flaws may undermine even formally verified software executing on top. Consequently, verification time dominates implementation time. The gold standard in hardware Design Verification (DV) is concentrated at two extremes: random dynamic verification and formal verification. Both techniques struggle to root out the subtle flaws in complex hardware that often manifest as security vulnerabilities. The root problem with random verification is its undirected nature, making it inefficient, while formal verification is constrained by the state-space explosion problem, making it infeasible to apply to complex designs. What is needed is a solution that is directed, yet under-constrained.

Instead of making incremental improvements to existing hardware verification approaches, we leverage the observation that existing software fuzzers already provide such a solution; we adapt it for hardware verification, thus leveraging existing—more advanced—software verification tools. Specifically, we translate RTL hardware to a software model and fuzz that model. The central challenge we address is how best to mitigate the differences between the hardware execution model and software execution model. This includes: 1) how to represent test cases, 2) what is the hardware equivalent of a crash, 3) what is an appropriate coverage metric, and 4) how to create a general-purpose fuzzing harness for hardware.

To evaluate our approach, we design, implement, and opensource a Hardware Fuzzing Pipeline that enables fuzzing hardware at scale, using only open-source tools. Using our pipeline, we fuzz four IP blocks from Google’s OpenTitan Root-of-Trust chip. Our experiments reveal a two orders-of-magnitude reduction in run time to achieve Finite State Machine (FSM) coverage over traditional dynamic verification schemes. Moreover, with our design-agnostic harness, we achieve over 88% HDL line coverage in three out of four of our designs—even without any initial seeds.

RUSTY: A Fuzzing Tool for Rust (ACSAC 2020)

Abstract: Rust is known as one of the most popular programming languages on the Stack Overflow website in 2020, indicating that many programmers have had the opportunity to use Rust in different projects. There are many reasons for this success, mostly due to its performance and safety. Rust is a friendly compiler with useful error messages, which provides excellent documentation with an integrated package manager. Furthermore, it is memory-efficient and fast without a garbage collector. Hence, the Rust compiler can power performance-critical services run on embedded devices. Likewise, due to Rusts rich type system and ownership model, it guarantees memory-safety and thread-safety enabling the end-users to reduce various bug types at compile-time.

However, even though all the advantages come with Rust, we found there are still various security issues in this ecosystem that can compromise the safety of Rust programs. To perform our security analysis, we created RUSTY that perform bug fuzzing based on the combination of concolic testing and property-based testing. is also the first kind of its own for the Rust ecosystem. Our preliminary evaluation collected multiple trendy Rust projects on GitHub, and RUSTY could successfully identify various memory security issues in this benchmark suite.

Fuzzing Technique in Web Applications and Beyond (MCTE 2020)

Abstract: Web security is an old yet important topic. With the emergence of new applications and new threats, we need new techniques to fight against these threats. Fuzzing technique has been proven as an effective tool and has the potential of evolving with the new threats. In this paper, we discuss the applications of fuzzing technique in both web and other areas. We also present a case study by implementing a fuzzer in this study.

Nyx: Greybox Hypervisor Fuzzing using Fast Snapshots and Affine Types (USENIX Security2021)

Abstract: A hypervisor (also know as virtual machine monitor, VMM) enforces the security boundaries between different virtual machines (VMs) running on the same physical machine. A malicious user who is able to run her own kernel on a cloud VM can interact with a large variety of attack surfaces. Exploiting a software fault in any of these surfaces leads to full access to all other VMs that are co-located on the same host. Hence, the efficient detection of hypervisor vulnerabilities is crucial for the security of the modern cloud infrastructure. Recent work showed that blind fuzzing is the most efficient approach to identify security issues in hypervisors, mainly due to an outstandingly high test throughput.

In this paper we present the design and implementation of NYX, a highly optimized, coverage-guided hypervisor fuzzer. We show how a fast snapshot restoration mechanism that allows us to reload the system under test thousands of times per second is key to performance. Furthermore, we introduce a novel mutation engine based on custom bytecode programs, encoded as directed acyclic graphs (DAG), and affine types, that enables the required flexibility to express complex interactions. Our evaluation shows that, while NYX has a lower throughput than the state-of-the-art hypervisor fuzzer, it performs competitively on simple targets: NYX typically requires only a few minutes longer to achieve the same test coverage. On complex devices, however, our approach is able to significantly outperform existing works. Moreover, we are able to uncover substantially more bugs: in total, we uncovered 44 new bugs with 22 CVEs requested. Our results demonstrate that coverage guidance is highly valuable, even if a blind fuzzer can be significantly faster.

The Use of Likely Invariants as Feedback for Fuzzers (USENIX Security2021)

Abstract: While fuzz testing proved to be a very effective technique to find software bugs, open challenges still exist. One of the its main limitations is the fact that popular coverage-guided designs are optimized to reach different parts of the program under test, but struggle when reachability alone is insufficient to trigger a vulnerability. In reality, many bugs require a specific program state that involve not only the control flow, but also the values of some of the program variables. Unfortunately, alternative exploration strategies that have been proposed in the past to capture the program state are of little help in practice, as they immediately result in a state explosion. In this paper, we propose a new feedback mechanism that augments code coverage by taking into account the usual values and relationships among program variables. For this purpose, we learn likely invariants over variables at the basicblock level, and partition the program state space accordingly. Our feedback can distinguish when an input violates one or more invariants and reward it, thus refining the program state approximation that code coverage normally offers. We implemented our technique in a prototype called INVSCOV, developed on top of LLVM and AFL++. Our experiments show that our approach can find more, and different, bugs with respect to fuzzers that use a pure code-coverage feedback. Furthermore, they led to the discovery of two vulnerabilities in a library tested daily on OSS-Fuzz, and still present at the time in its latest version.

FREEDOM: Engineering a State-of-the-Art DOM Fuzzer (CCS 2020)

Abstract: The DOM engine of a web browser is a popular attack surface and has been thoroughly fuzzed during its development. A common approach adopted by the latest DOM fuzzers is to generate new inputs based on context-free grammars. However, such a generative approach fails to capture the data dependencies in the inputs of a DOM engine, namely, HTML documents. Meanwhile, it is unclear whether or not coverage-guided mutation, which is well-known to be effective in fuzzing numerous software, still remains to be effective against DOM engines. Worse yet, existing DOM fuzzers cannot adopt a coverage-guided approach because they are unable to fully support HTML mutation and suffer from low browser throughput. To scientifically understand the effectiveness and limitations of the two approaches, we propose FreeDom, a full-fledged cluster-friendly DOM fuzzer that works with both generative and coverage-guided modes. FreeDom relies on a context-aware intermediate representation to describe HTML documents with proper data dependencies. FreeDom also exhibits up to 3.74x higher throughput through browser self-termination. FreeDom has found 24 previously unknown bugs in commodity browsers including Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, and 10 CVEs has been assigned so far. With the context-aware generation, FreeDom finds 3x more unique crashes in WebKit than the state-of-the-art DOM fuzzer, Domato. FreeDom guided by coverage is more effective in revealing new code blocks (2.62%) and finds three complex bugs that its generative approach fails to find. However, coverage-guided mutation that bootstraps with an empty corpus triggers 3.8x fewer unique crashes than the generative approach. The newly revealed coverage, more often than not, negatively affects the effectiveness of DOM fuzzers in bug finding. Therefore, we consider context-aware generation the best practice to find more DOM engine bugs and expect further improvement on coverage-guided DOM fuzzing facilitated by FreeDom.

SQUIRREL: Testing Database Management Systems with Language Validity and Coverage Feedback (CCS 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is an increasingly popular technique for verifying software functionalities and finding security vulnerabilities. However, current mutation-based fuzzers cannot effectively test database management systems (DBMSs), which strictly check inputs for valid syntax and semantics. Generation-based testing can guarantee the syntax correctness of the inputs, but it does not utilize any feedback, like code coverage, to guide the path exploration.

In this paper, we develop Squirrel, a novel fuzzing framework that considers both language validity and coverage feedback to test DBMSs. We design an intermediate representation (IR) to maintain SQL queries in a structural and informative manner. To generate syntactically correct queries, we perform type-based mutations on IR, including statement insertion, deletion and replacement. To mitigate semantic errors, we analyze each IR to identify the logical dependencies between arguments, and generate queries that satisfy these dependencies. We evaluated Squirrel on four popular DBMSs: SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL and MariaDB. Squirrel found 51 bugs in SQLite, 7 in MySQL and 5 in MariaDB. 52 of the bugs are fixed with 12 CVEs assigned. In our experiment, Squirrel achieves 2.4x-243.9x higher semantic correctness than state-of-the-art fuzzers, and explores 2.0x-10.9x more new edges than mutation-based tools. These results show that Squirrel is effective in finding memory errors of database management systems.

BigFuzz: Efficient Fuzz Testing for Data Analytics using Framework Abstraction (ASE 2020)

Abstract: As big data analytics become increasingly popular, data-intensive scalable computing (DISC) systems help address the scalability issue of handling large data. However, there exists a lack of automated testing techniques to test such data-centric applications, because data is often incomplete, continuously evolving, and hard to know a priori. Fuzz testing has been proven to be highly effective in other domains such as security; however, it is nontrivial to apply such traditional fuzzing to big data analytics directly for three reasons: (1) the long latency of DISC systems prohibits the applicability of fuzzing: naïve fuzzing would spend 98% of the time in setting up a test environment; (2) conventional branch coverage is unlikely to scale to DISC applications because most binary code comes from the framework implementation such as Apache Spark; and (3) random bit or byte-level mutations can hardly generate meaningful data, which fails to reveal real-world application bugs.

We propose a novel coverage-guided fuzz testing tool for big data analytics, called BigFuzz. The key essence of our approach is that: (a) we focus on exercising application logic as opposed to increasing framework code coverage by abstracting the DISC frame-work using specifications. BigFuzz performs automated source to source transformations to construct an equivalent DISC application suitable for fast test generation, and (b) we design schema-aware data mutation operators based on our in-depth study of DISC application error types. BigFuzz speeds up the fuzzing time by 78X-1477X compared to random fuzzing, improves application code coverage by 20%-271%, and achieves 33%-157% improvement in detecting application errors. When compared to the state of the art that uses symbolic execution to test big data analytics, BigFuzz is applicable to twice more programs and can find 80.6% more bugs.

MoFuzz: A Fuzzer Suite for Testing Model-Driven Software Engineering Tools (ASE 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing or fuzz testing is an established technique that aims to discover unexpected program behavior (e.g. bugs, security vulnerabilities, or crashes) by feeding automatically generated data into a program under test. However, the application of fuzzing to test Model-Driven Software Engineering (MDSE) tools is still limited because of the difficulty of existing fuzzers to provide structured, well-typed inputs, namely models that conform to typing and consistency constraints induced by a given meta-model and underlying modeling framework. By drawing from recent advances on both fuzz testing and automated model generation, we present three different approaches for fuzzing MDSE tools: A graph grammar-based fuzzer and two variants of a coverage-guided mutation-based fuzzer working with different sets of model mutation operators. We have evaluated our fuzzing approaches on a set of real-world MDSE tools. Our experimental results show that all approaches can outperform both standard fuzzers and model generators w.r.t.\ their fuzzing capabilities. Moreover, we found that each of our approaches comes with its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of fault finding capabilities and the ability to cover different aspects of the system under test. Thus the approaches complement each other, forming a fuzzer suite for testing MDSE tools.

AFL++: Combining Incremental Steps of Fuzzing Research (USENIX Woot2020)

Abstract: In this paper, we present AFL++, a community-driven opensource tool that incorporates state-of-the-art fuzzing research, to make the research comparable, reproducible, combinable, and — most importantly – useable. It offers a variety of novel features, for example, its Custom Mutator API, able to extend the fuzzing process at many stages. With it, mutators for specific targets can also be written by experienced security testers. We hope for AFL++ to become a new baseline tool not only for current, but also for future research, as it allows us to test new techniques quickly, and evaluate not only the effectiveness of the single technique versus the state-of-the art, but also in combination with other techniques. The paper gives an evaluation of hand-picked fuzzing technologies —shining light on the fact that while each novel fuzzing method can increase performance in some targets — it decreases performance for other targets. This is an insight future fuzzing research should consider in their evaluations.

Active Fuzzing for Testing and Securing Cyber-Physical Systems (ISSTA 2020)

Abstract: Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) in critical infrastructure face a pervasive threat from attackers, motivating research into a variety of countermeasures for securing them. Assessing the effectiveness of these countermeasures is challenging, however, as realistic benchmarks of attacks are difficult to manually construct, blindly testing is ineffective due to the enormous search spaces and resource requirements, and intelligent fuzzing approaches require impractical amounts of data and network access. In this work, we propose active fuzzing, an automatic approach for finding test suites of packet-level CPS network attacks, targeting scenarios in which attackers can observe sensors and manipulate packets, but have no existing knowledge about the payload encodings. Our approach learns regression models for predicting sensor values that will result from sampled network packets, and uses these predictions to guide a search for payload manipulations (i.e. bit flips) most likely to drive the CPS into an unsafe state. Key to our solution is the use of online active learning, which iteratively updates the models by sampling payloads that are estimated to maximally improve them. We evaluate the efficacy of active fuzzing by implementing it for a water purification plant testbed, finding it can automatically discover a test suite of flow, pressure, and over/underflow attacks, all with substantially less time, data, and network access than the most comparable approach. Finally, we demonstrate that our prediction models can also be utilised as countermeasures themselves, implementing them as anomaly detectors and early warning systems.

CrFuzz: Fuzzing Multi-purpose Programs through Input Validation (FSE 2020)

Abstract: Fuzz testing has been proved its effectiveness in discovering software vulnerabilities. Empowered its randomness nature along with a coverage-guiding feature, fuzzing has been identified a vast number of vulnerabilities in real-world programs. This paper begins with an observation that the design of the current state-of-the-art fuzzers is not well suited for a particular (but yet important) set of software programs. Specifically, current fuzzers have limitations in fuzzing programs serving multiple purposes, where each purpose is controlled by extra options. This paper proposes CrFuzz, which overcomes this limitation. CrFuzz designs a clustering analysis to automatically predict if a newly given input would be accepted or not by a target program. Exploiting this prediction capability, CrFuzz is designed to efficiently explore the programs with multiple purposes. We employed CrFuzz for three state-of-the-art fuzzers, AFL, QSYM, and MOpt, and CrFuzz-augmented versions have shown 19.3% and 5.68% better path and edge coverage on average. More importantly, during two weeks of long-running experiments, CrFuzz discovered 277 previously unknown vulnerabilities where 212 of those are already confirmed and fixed by the respected vendors. We would like to emphasize that many of these vulnerabilities were discoverd from FFMpeg, ImageMagick, and Graphicsmagick, all of which are targets of Google’s OSS-Fuzz project and thus heavily fuzzed for last three years by far. Nevertheless, CrFuzz identified a remarkable number of vulnerabilities, demonstrating its effectiveness of vulnerability finding capability.

SpecFuzz: Bringing Spectre-type vulnerabilities to the surface (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: SpecFuzz is the first tool that enables dynamic testing for speculative execution vulnerabilities (e.g., Spectre). The key is a novel concept of speculation exposure: The program is instrumented to simulate speculative execution in software by forcefully executing the code paths that could be triggered due to mispredictions, thereby making the speculative memory accesses visible to integrity checkers (e.g., AddressSanitizer). Combined with the conventional fuzzing techniques, speculation exposure enables more precise identification of potential vulnerabilities compared to state-of-the-art static analyzers. Our prototype for detecting Spectre V1 vulnerabilities successfully identifies all known variations of Spectre V1 and decreases the mitigation overheads across the evaluated applications, reducing the amount of instrumented branches by up to 77% given a sufficient test coverage.

FuzzGen: Automatic Fuzzer Generation (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a testing technique to discover unknown vulnerabilities in software. When applying fuzzing to libraries, the core idea of supplying random input remains unchanged, yet it is non-trivial to achieve good code coverage. Libraries cannot run as standalone programs, but instead are invoked through another application. Triggering code deep in a library remains challenging as specific sequences of API calls are required to build up the necessary state. Libraries are diverse and have unique interfaces that require unique fuzzers, so far written by a human analyst.

To address this issue, we present FuzzGen, a tool for automatically synthesizing fuzzers for complex libraries in a given environment. FuzzGen leverages a whole system analysis to infer the library’s interface and synthesizes fuzzers specifically for that library. FuzzGen requires no human interaction and can be applied to a wide range of libraries. Furthermore, the generated fuzzers leverage LibFuzzer to achieve better code coverage and expose bugs that reside deep in the library.

FuzzGen was evaluated on Debian and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) selecting 7 libraries to generate fuzzers. So far, we have found 17 previously unpatched vulnerabilities with 6 assigned CVEs. The generated fuzzers achieve an average of 54.94% code coverage; an improvement of 6.94% when compared to manually written fuzzers, demonstrating the effectiveness and generality of FuzzGen.

USBFuzz: A Framework for Fuzzing USB Drivers by Device Emulation (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: The Universal Serial Bus (USB) connects external devices to a host. This interface exposes the OS kernels and device drivers to attacks by malicious devices. Unfortunately, kernels and drivers were developed under a security model that implicitly trusts connected devices. Drivers expect faulty hardware but not malicious attacks. Similarly, security testing drivers are challenging as input must cross the hardware/software barrier. Fuzzing, the most widely used bug-finding technique, relies on providing random data to programs. However, fuzzing device drivers is challenging due to the difficulty in crossing the hardware/software barrier and providing random device data to the driver under test.

We present USBFuzz, a portable, flexible, and modular framework for fuzz testing USB drivers. At its core, USBFuzz uses a software-emulated USB device to provide random device data to drivers (when they perform IO operations). As the emulated USB device works at the device level, porting it to other platforms is straight-forward. Using the USBFuzz framework, we apply (i) coverage-guided fuzzing to a broad range of USB drivers in the Linux kernel; (ii) dumb fuzzing in FreeBSD, MacOS, and Windows through cross-pollination seeded by the Linux inputs; and (iii) focused fuzzing of a USB webcam driver. USBFuzz discovered a total of 26 new bugs, including 16 memory bugs of high-security impact in various Linux subsystems (USB core, USB sound, and network), one bug in FreeBSD, three in MacOS (two resulting in an unplanned reboot and one freezing the system), and four in Windows 8 and Windows 10 (resulting in Blue Screens of Death), and one bug in the Linux USB host controller driver and another one in a USB camera driver. From the Linux bugs, we have fixed and upstreamed 11 bugs and received 10 CVEs.

Boosting Fuzzer Efficiency: An Information Theoretic Perspective (FSE 2020)

Abstract: In this paper, we take the fundamental perspective of fuzzing as a learning process. Suppose before fuzzing, we know nothing about the behaviors of a program P: What does it do? Executing the first test input, we learn how P behaves for this input. Executing the next input, we either observe the same or discover a new behavior. As such, each execution reveals “some amount” of information about P’s behaviors. A classic measure of information is Shannon’s entropy. Measuring entropy allows us to quantify how much is learned from each generated test input about the behaviors of the program. Within a probabilistic model of fuzzing, we show how entropy also measures fuzzer efficiency. Specifically, it measures the general rate at which the fuzzer discovers new behaviors. Intuitively, efficient fuzzers maximize information.

From this information theoretic perspective, we develop Entropic, an entropy-based power schedule for greybox fuzzing which assigns more energy to seeds that maximize information. We implemented Entropic into the popular greybox fuzzer LibFuzzer. Our experiments with more than 250 open-source programs (60 million LoC) demonstrate a substantially improved efficiency and confirm our hypothesis that an efficient fuzzer maximizes information. Entropic has been independently evaluated and invited for integration into main-line LibFuzzer. Entropic will run on more than 25,000 machines fuzzing hundreds of security-critical software systems simultaneously and continuously.

Fuzzing Error Handling Code using Context-Sensitive Software Fault Injection (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Error handling code is often critical but difficult to test in reality. As a result, many hard-to-find bugs exist in error handling code and may cause serious security problems once triggered. Fuzzing has become a widely used technique for finding software bugs nowadays. Fuzzing approaches mutate and/or generate various inputs to cover infrequently-executed code. However, existing fuzzing approaches are very limited in testing error handling code, because some of this code can be only triggered by occasional errors (such as insufficient memory and network-connection failures), but not specific inputs. Therefore, existing fuzzing approaches in general cannot effectively test such error handling code.

In this paper, we propose a new fuzzing framework named FIFUZZ, to effectively test error handling code and detect bugs. The core of FIFUZZ is a context-sensitive software fault injection (SFI) approach, which can effectively cover error handling code in different calling contexts to find deep bugs hidden in error handling code with complicated contexts. We have implemented FIFUZZ and evaluated it on 9 widely-used C programs. It reports 317 alerts which are caused by 50 unique bugs in terms of the root causes. 32 of these bugs have been confirmed by related developers. We also compare FIFUZZ to existing fuzzing tools (including AFL, AFLFast, AFLSmart and FairFuzz), and find that FIFUZZ finds many bugs missed by these tools. We believe that FIFUZZ can effectively augment existing fuzzing approaches to find many real bugs that have been otherwise missed.

FANS: Fuzzing Android Native System Services via Automated Interface Analysis (USENIX Security2020)

Abstract: Android native system services provide essential supports and fundamental functionalities for user apps. Finding vulnerabilities in them is crucial for Android security. Fuzzing is one of the most popular vulnerability discovery solutions, yet faces several challenges when applied to Android native system services. First, such services are invoked via a special interprocess communication (IPC) mechanism, namely binder, via service-specific interfaces. Thus, the fuzzer has to recognize all interfaces and generate interface-specific test cases automatically. Second, effective test cases should satisfy the interface model of each interface. Third, the test cases should also satisfy the semantic requirements, including variable dependencies and interface dependencies.

In this paper, we propose an automated generation-based fuzzing solution FANS to find vulnerabilities in Android native system services. It first collects all interfaces in target services and uncovers deep nested multi-level interfaces to test. Then, it automatically extracts interface models, including feasible transaction code, variable names and types in the transaction data, from the abstract syntax tree (AST) of target interfaces. Further, it infers variable dependencies in transactions via the variable name and type knowledge, and infers interface dependencies via the generation and use relationship. Finally, it employs the interface models and dependency knowledge to generate sequences of transactions, which have valid formats and semantics, to test interfaces of target services. We implemented a prototype of FANS from scratch and evaluated it on six smartphones equipped with a recent version of Android, i.e., android-9.0.0_r46 , and found 30 unique vulnerabilities deduplicated from thousands of crashes, of which 20 have been confirmed by Google. Surprisingly, we also discovered 138 unique Java exceptions during fuzzing.

Fuzzing IPC with Knowledge Inference (SRDS 2019)

Abstract: Sandboxing provides a strong security guarantee for applications, by isolating untrusted code into separated compartments. Untrusted code could only use IPC (inter-process communication) to launch sensitive actions, which are implemented in trusted (and maybe privileged) code. IPC-related security bugs in trusted code could facilitate jailbreaks of sandboxing, and thus are becoming high-value targets. However, finding vulnerabilities that could be triggered by IPC is challenging, due to the fact that IPC communication is stateful and format-sensitive.

In this paper, we propose a new fuzzing solution to discover IPC bugs in IPC services without source code, by combining static analysis and dynamic analysis. We use static analysis to recognize format checks and help construct IPC messages of valid formats. We then use dynamic analysis to infer the constraints between IPC messages, and model the stateful logic with a probability matrix. Therefore, we are able to generate highquality IPC messages to test IPC services, and discover deep and complex IPC bugs. Without loss of generality, we implemented a prototype MACHFUZZER, for a specific complicated and crucial IPC service, i.e., WindowServer in macOS. This prototype helps us find 12 previously unknown vulnerabilities in WindowServer in 48 hours. Among them, three vulnerabilities are confirmed exploitable, and could be exploited to escape the sandbox and gain root privilege.

HYPER-CUBE: High-Dimensional Hypervisor Fuzzing (NDSS 2020)

Abstract: Applying modern fuzzers to novel targets is often a very lucrative venture. Hypervisors are part of a very critical code base: compromising them could allow an attacker to compromise the whole cloud infrastructure of any cloud provider. In this paper, we build a novel fuzzer that aims explicitly at testing modern hypervisors. Our high throughput fuzzer design for long running interactive targets allows us to fuzz a large number of hypervisors, both open source, and proprietary. In contrast to one-dimensional fuzzers such as AFL, HYPER-CUBE can interact with any number of interfaces in any order.

Our evaluation shows that we can find more bugs (over 2x) and coverage (as much as 2x) than state of the art hypervisor fuzzers. Additionally, in most cases, we were able to do so using multiple orders of magnitude less time than comparable fuzzers. HYPER-CUBE was also able to rediscover a set of well-known vulnerabilities for hypervisors, such as VENOM, in less than five minutes. In total, HYPER-CUBE found 54 novel bugs, and so far we obtained 37 CVEs. Our evaluation results demonstrates that next generation coverage-guided fuzzers should incorporate a higher-throughput design for long running targets such as hypervisors.

Reproducible Crashes: Fuzzing Pharo by Mutating the Test Methods (IWST20 2020)

Abstract: Fuzzing (or Fuzz Testing) is a technique to verify the robustness of a program-under-test. Valid input is replaced by random values with the goal to force the program-under-test into unresponsive states. In this position paper, we propose a white box Fuzzing approach by transforming (mutating) existing test methods. We adopt the mechanisms used for test amplification to generate crash inducing tests, which developers can reproduce later. We provide anecdotal evidence that our approach towards Fuzzing reveals crashing issues in the Pharo environment.

Opening Pandora’s Box through ATFuzzer: Dynamic Analysis of AT Interface for Android Smartphones (ACSAC 2019)

Abstract: This paper focuses on checking the correctness and robustness ofthe AT command interface exposed by the cellular baseband processor through Bluetooth and USB. A device’s application processor uses this interface for issuing high-level commands (or, AT commands) to the baseband processor for performing cellular network operations (e.g., placing a phone call). Vulnerabilities in this interface can be leveraged by malicious Bluetooth peripherals to launch pernicious attacks including DoS and privacy attacks. To identify such vulnerabilities, we propose ATFuzzer that uses a grammar-guided evolutionary fuzzing approach which mutates production rules of the AT command grammar instead of concrete AT commands. Empirical evaluation with ATFuzzer on 10 Android smartphones from 6 vendors revealed 4 invalid AT command grammars over Bluetooth and 13 over USB with implications ranging from DoS, downgrade of cellular protocol version (e.g., from 4G to 3G/2G) to severe privacy leaks. The vulnerabilities along with the invalid AT command grammars were responsibly disclosed to affected vendors and two of the reported vulnerabilities have been already assigned CVEs (CVE-2019-16400 and CVE-2019-16401).

FuzzFactory: Domain-Specific Fuzzing with Waypoints (OOPSLA 2019)

Abstract: Coverage-guided fuzz testing has gained prominence as a highly effective method of finding security vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows in programs that parse binary data. Recently, researchers have introduced various specializations to the coverage-guided fuzzing algorithm for different domain-specific testing goals, such as finding performance bottlenecks, generating valid inputs, handling magic-byte comparisons, etc. Each such solution can require non-trivial implementation effort and produces a distinct variant of a fuzzing tool. We observe that many of these domain-specific solutions follow a common solution pattern.

In this paper, we present FuzzFactory, a framework for developing domain-specific fuzzing applications without requiring changes to mutation and search heuristics. FuzzFactory allows users to specify the collection of dynamic domain-specific feedback during test execution, as well as how such feedback should be aggregated. FuzzFactory uses this information to selectively save intermediate inputs, called waypoints, to augment coverage-guided fuzzing. Such waypoints always make progress towards domain-specific multi-dimensional objectives. We instantiate six domain-specific fuzzing applications using FuzzFactory: three re-implementations of prior work and three novel solutions, and evaluate their effectiveness on benchmarks from Google’s fuzzer test suite. We also show how multiple domains can be composed to perform better than the sum of their parts. For example, we combine domain-specific feedback about strict equality comparisons and dynamic memory allocations, to enable the automatic generation of LZ4 bombs and PNG bombs.

Compiler Fuzzing: How Much Does It Matter (OOPSLA2019)

Abstract: Despite much recent interest in randomised testing (fuzzing) of compilers, the practical impact of fuzzer-found compiler bugs on real-world applications has barely been assessed. We present the first quantitative and qualitative study of the tangible impact of miscompilation bugs in a mature compiler. We follow a rigorous methodology where the bug impact over the compiled application is evaluated based on (1) whether the bug appears to trigger during compilation; (2) the extent to which generated assembly code changes syntactically due to triggering of the bug; and (3) whether such changes cause regression test suite failures, or whether we can manually find application inputs that trigger execution divergence due to such changes. The study is conducted with respect to the compilation of more than 10 million lines of C/C++ code from 309 Debian packages, using 12% of the historical and now fixed miscompilation bugs found by four state-of-the-art fuzzers in the Clang/LLVM compiler, as well as 18 bugs found by human users compiling real code or as a by-product of formal verification efforts. The results show that almost half of the fuzzer-found bugs propagate to the generated binaries for at least one package, in which case only a very small part of the binary is typically affected, yet causing two failures when running the test suites of all the impacted packages. User-reported and formal verification bugs do not exhibit a higher impact, with a lower rate of triggered bugs and one test failure. The manual analysis of a selection of the syntactic changes caused by some of our bugs (fuzzer-found and non fuzzer-found) in package assembly code, shows that either these changes have no semantic impact or that they would require very specific runtime circumstances to trigger execution divergence.

FUDGE: Fuzz Driver Generation at Scale (FSE 2019)

Abstract: At Google we have found tens of thousands of security and robustness bugs by fuzzing C and C++ libraries. To fuzz a library, a fuzzer requires a fuzz driver—which exercises some library code—to which it can pass inputs. Unfortunately, writing fuzz drivers remains a primarily manual exercise, a major hindrance to the widespread adoption of fuzzing. In this paper, we address this major hindrance by introducing the Fudge system for automated fuzz driver generation. Fudge automatically generates fuzz driver candidates for libraries based on existing client code. We have used Fudge to generate thousands of new drivers for a wide variety of libraries. Each generated driver includes a synthesized C/C++ program and a corresponding build script, and is automatically analyzed for quality. Developers have integrated over 200 of these generated drivers into continuous fuzzing services and have committed to address reported security bugs. Further, several of these fuzz drivers have been upstreamed to open source projects and integrated into the OSS-Fuzz fuzzing infrastructure. Running these fuzz drivers has resulted in over 150 bug fixes, including the elimination of numerous exploitable security vulnerabilities.

RVFuzzer: Finding Input Validation Bugs in Robotic Vehicles through Control-Guided Random Testing (USENIX Security2019)

Abstract: Robotic vehicles (RVs) are being adopted in a variety of application domains. Despite their increasing deployment, many security issues with RVs have emerged, limiting their wider deployment. In this paper, we address a new type of vulnerability in RV control programs, called input validation bugs, which involve missing or incorrect validation checks on control parameter inputs. Such bugs can be exploited to cause physical disruptions to RVs which may result in mission failures and vehicle damages or crashes. Furthermore, attacks exploiting such bugs have a very small footprint: just one innocent-looking ground control command, requiring no code injection, control flow hijacking or sensor spoofing. To prevent such attacks, we propose RVFuzzer, a vetting system for finding input validation bugs in RV control programs through control-guided input mutation. The key insight behind RVFuzzer is that the RV control model, which is the generic theoretical model for a broad range of RVs, provides helpful semantic guidance to improve bug-discovery accuracy and efficiency. Specifically, RVFuzzer involves a control instability detector that detects control program misbehavior, by observing (simulated) physical operations of the RV based on the control model. In addition, RVFuzzer steers the input generation for finding input validation bugs more efficiently, by leveraging results from the control instability detector as feedback. In our evaluation of RVFuzzer on two popular RV control programs, a total of 89 input validation bugs are found, with 87 of them being zero-day bugs.

Life after Speech Recognition: Fuzzing Semantic Misinterpretation for Voice Assistant Applications (NDSS 2019)

Abstract: Popular Voice Assistant (VA) services such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are now rapidly appifying their platforms to allow more flexible and diverse voice-controlled service experience. However, the ubiquitous deployment of VA devices and the increasing number of third-party applications have raised security and privacy concerns. While previous works such as hidden voice attacks mostly examine the problems of VA services’ default Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) component, our work analyzes and evaluates the security of the succeeding component after ASR, i.e., Natural Language Understanding (NLU), which performs semantic interpretation (i.e., text-to-intent) after ASR’s acoustic-to-text processing. In particular, we focus on NLU’s Intent Classifier which is used in customizing machine understanding for third-party VA Applications (or vApps). We find that the semantic inconsistency caused by the improper semantic interpretation of an Intent Classifier can create the opportunity of breaching the integrity of vApp processing when attackers delicately leverage some common spoken errors. In this paper, we design the first linguistic-model-guided fuzzing tool, named LipFuzzer, to assess the security of Intent Classifier and systematically discover potential misinterpretation-prone spoken errors based on vApps’ voice command templates. To guide the fuzzing, we construct adversarial linguistic models with the help of Statistical Relational Learning (SRL) and emerging Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques. In evaluation, we have successfully verified the effectiveness and accuracy of LipFuzzer. We also use LipFuzzer to evaluate both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant vApp platforms. We have identified that a large portion of real-world vApps are vulnerable based on our fuzzing result.

Engineering a Better Fuzzer with Synergically Integrated Optimizations (ISSRE 2019)

Abstract: State-of-the-art fuzzers implement various optimizations to enhance their performance. As the optimizations reside in different stages such as input seed selection and mutation, it is tempting to combine the optimizations in different stages. However, our initial attempts demonstrate that naive combination actually worsens the performance, which explains that most optimizations are still isolated by stages and metrics. In this paper, we present InteFuzz, the first framework that synergically integrates multiple fuzzing optimizations. We analyze the root cause for performance degradation in naive combination, and discover optimizations conflict in coverage criteria and optimization granularity. To resolve the conflicts, we propose a novel priority-based scheduling mechanism. The dynamic integration considers both branch-based and block-based coverage feedbacks that are used by most fuzzing optimizations. In our evaluation, we extract four optimizations from popular fuzzers such as AFLFast and FairFuzz and compare InteFuzz against naive combinations. The evaluation results show that InteFuzz outperforms the naive combination by 29% and 26% in path-and branch-coverage. Additionally, InteFuzz triggers 222 more unique crashes, and discovers 33 zero-day vulnerabilities in real-world projects with 12 registered as CVEs.

Fuzzing Error Handling Code in Device Drivers Based on Software Fault Injection (ISSRE 2019)

Abstract: Device drivers remain a main source of runtime failures in operating systems. To detect bugs in device drivers, fuzzing has been commonly used in practice. However, a main limitation of existing fuzzing approaches is that they cannot effectively test error handling code. Indeed, these fuzzing approaches require effective inputs to cover target code, but much error handling code in drivers is triggered by occasional errors (such as insufficient memory and hardware malfunctions) that are not related to inputs. In this paper, based on software fault injection, we propose a new fuzzing approach named FIZZER, to test error handling code in device drivers. At compile time, FIZZER uses static analysis to recommend possible error sites that can trigger error handling code. During driver execution, by analyzing runtime information, it automatically fuzzes error-site sequences for fault injection to improve code coverage. We evaluate FIZZER on 18 device drivers in Linux 4.19, and in total find 22 real bugs. The code coverage is increased by over 15% compared to normal execution without fuzzing.

What You Corrupt Is Not What You Crash: Challenges in Fuzzing Embedded Devices (NDSS 2018)

Abstract: As networked embedded systems are becoming more ubiquitous, their security is becoming critical to our daily life. While manual or automated large scale analysis of those systems regularly uncover new vulnerabilities, the way those systems are analyzed follows often the same approaches used on desktop systems. More specifically, traditional testing approaches relies on observable crashes of a program, and binary instrumentation techniques are used to improve the detection of those faulty states. In this paper, we demonstrate that memory corruptions, a common class of security vulnerabilities, often result in different behavior on embedded devices than on desktop systems. In particular, on embedded devices, effects of memory corruption are often less visible. This reduces significantly the effectiveness of traditional dynamic testing techniques in general, and fuzzing in particular. Additionally, we analyze those differences in several categories of embedded devices and show the resulting impact on firmware analysis. We further describe and evaluate relatively simple heuristics which can be applied at run time (on an execution trace or in an emulator), during the analysis of an embedded device to detect previously undetected memory corruptions.

FOT: A Versatile, Configurable, Extensible Fuzzing Framework (FSE 2018)

Abstract: Greybox fuzzing is one of the most effective approaches for detecting software vulnerabilities. Various new techniques have been continuously emerging to enhance the effectiveness and/or efficiency by incorporating novel ideas into different components of a greybox fuzzer. However, there lacks a modularized fuzzing framework that can easily plugin new techniques and hence facilitate the reuse, integration and comparison of different techniques. To address this problem, we propose a fuzzing framework, namely Fuzzing Orchestration Toolkit (FOT). FOT is designed to be versatile, configurable and extensible. With FOT and its extensions, we have found 111 new bugs from 11 projects. Among these bugs, 18 CVEs have been assigned. Video link: https://youtu.be/O6Qu7BJ8RP0

Designing New Operating Primitives to Improve Fuzzing Performance (CCS 2017)

Abstract: Fuzzing is a software testing technique that finds bugs by repeatedly injecting mutated inputs to a target program. Known to be a highly practical approach, fuzzing is gaining more popularity than ever before. Current research on fuzzing has focused on producing an input that is more likely to trigger a vulnerability. In this paper, we tackle another way to improve the performance of fuzzing, which is to shorten the execution time of each iteration. We observe that AFL, a state-of-the-art fuzzer, slows down by 24x because of file system contention and the scalability of fork() system call when it runs on 120 cores in parallel. Other fuzzers are expected to suffer from the same scalability bottlenecks in that they follow a similar design pattern. To improve the fuzzing performance, we design and implement three new operating primitives specialized for fuzzing that solve these performance bottlenecks and achieve scalable performance on multi-core machines. Our experiment shows that the proposed primitives speed up AFL and LibFuzzer by 6.1 to 28.9x and 1.1 to 735.7x, respectively, on the overall number of executions per second when targeting Google’s fuzzer test suite with 120 cores. In addition, the primitives improve AFL’s throughput up to 7.7x with 30 cores, which is a more common setting in data centers. Our fuzzer-agnostic primitives can be easily applied to any fuzzer with fundamental performance improvement and directly benefit large-scale fuzzing and cloud-based fuzzing services.

In-memory fuzzing for binary code similarity analysis (ASE 2017)

Abstract: Detecting similar functions in binary executables serves as a foundation for much binary code analysis and reuse tasks. By far, recognizing similar components in binary code remains a challenge. Existing research employs either static or dynamic approaches to capture program syntax or semantics level features for comparison. However, there exist multiple design limitations in previous work, which result in relatively high cost, low accuracy, and scalability, and thus severely impede their practical use.

In this paper, we present a novel method that leverages in-memory fuzzing for binary code similarity analysis. Our prototype tool IMF-SIM applies in-memory fuzzing to launch analysis towards every function and collect traces of different kinds of program behaviors. The similarity score of two behavior traces is computed according to their longest common subsequence. To compare two functions, a feature vector is generated, whose elements are the similarity scores of the behavior trace-level comparisons. We train a machine learning model through labeled feature vectors; later, for a given feature vector by comparing two functions, the trained model gives a final score, representing the similarity score of the two functions. We evaluate IMF-SIM against binaries compiled by different compilers, optimizations, and commonly-used obfuscation methods, in total over one thousand binary executables. Our evaluation shows that IMFSIM notably outperforms existing tools with higher accuracy and broader application scopes.

Chizpurfle: A Gray-Box Android Fuzzer for Vendor Service Customizations (ISSRE 2017)

Abstract: Android has become the most popular mobile OS, as it enables device manufacturers to introduce customizations to compete with value-added services. However, customizations make the OS less dependable and secure, since they can introduce software flaws. Such flaws can be found by using fuzzing, a popular testing technique among security researchers.This paper presents Chizpurfle, a novel “gray-box” fuzzing tool for vendor-specific Android services. Testing these services is challenging for existing tools, since vendors do not provide source code and the services cannot be run on a device emulator. Chizpurfle has been designed to run on an unmodified Android OS on an actual device. The tool automatically discovers, fuzzes, and profiles proprietary services. This work evaluates the applicability and performance of Chizpurfle on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and discusses software bugs found in privileged vendor services

Systematic Fuzzing and Testing of TLS Libraries (CCS 2016)

Abstract: We present TLS-Attacker, an open source framework for evaluating the security of TLS libraries. TLS-Attacker allows security engineers to create custom TLS message flows and arbitrarily modify message contents using a simple interface in order to test the behavior of their libraries. Based on TLS-Attacker, we present a two-stage fuzzing approach to evaluate TLS server behavior. Our approach automatically searches for cryptographic failures and boundary violation vulnerabilities. It allowed us to find unusual padding oracle vulnerabilities and overflows/overreads in widely used TLS libraries, including OpenSSL, Botan, and MatrixSSL.

Our findings motivate developers to create comprehensive test suites, including positive as well as negative tests, for the evaluation of TLS libraries. We use TLS-Attacker to create such a test suite framework which finds further problems in Botan.

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