Zhen Huang

There is often a considerable delay between the discovery of a vulnerability and the issue of a patch. One way to mitigate this window of vulnerability is to use a configuration workaround, which prevents the vulnerable code from being executed at the cost of some lost functionality – but only if one is available. Since application configurations are not specifically designed to mitigate software vulnerabilities, we find that they only cover 25.2% of vulnerabilities. To minimize patch delay vulnerabilities and address the limitations of configuration workarounds, we propose Security Workarounds for Rapid Response (SWRRs), which are designed to neutralize security vulnerabilities in a timely, secure, and unobtrusive manner. Similar to configuration workarounds, SWRRs neutralize vulnerabilities by preventing vulnerable code from being executed at the cost of some lost functionality. However, the key difference is that SWRRs use existing error-handling code within applications, which enables them to be mechanically inserted with minimal knowledge of the application and minimal developer effort. This allows SWRRs to achieve high coverage while still being fast and easy to deploy.

Source Code

The source code of static analysis tool implemented for Talos, which analyzes a C/C++ program and collects information such as call graph, control dependency, function return value, and and how the return value of a function call is checked by the program, is available at github.


Talos is published in Proceedings of the 37th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (Oakland 2016).