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Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2017

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RevARM: A Platform-Agnostic ARM Binary Rewriter for Security Applications

ARM is the leading processor architecture in the emerging mobile and embedded market. Unfortunately, there has been a myriad of security issues on both mobile and embedded systems. While many countermeasures of such security issues have been proposed in recent years, a majority of applications still cannot be patched or protected due to run-time and space overhead constraints and the unavailability of source code. More importantly, the rapidly evolving mobile and embedded market makes any platform-specific solution ineffective. In this paper, we propose RevARM, a binary rewriting technique capable of instrumenting ARM-based binaries without limitation on the target platform. Unlike many previous binary instrumentation tools that are designed to instrument binaries based on x86, RevARM must resolve a number of new, ARM-specific binary rewriting challenges. Moreover, RevARM is able to handle stripped binaries, requires no symbolic/semantic information, and supports Mach-O binaries, overcoming the limitations of existing approaches. Finally, we demonstrate the capabilities of RevARM in solving real-world security challenges. Our evaluation results across a variety of platforms, including popular mobile and embedded systems, show that RevARM is highly effective in instrumenting ARM binaries with an average of 3.2% run-time and 1.3% space overhead.

Taegyu Kim
Purdue University
United States

Chung Hwan Kim
NEC Laboratories America
United States

Hongjun Choi
Purdue University
United States

Yonghwi Kwon
Purdue University
United States

Brendan Saltaformaggio
Georgia Institute of Technology
United States

Xiangyu Zhang
Purdue University
United States

Dongyan Xu
Purdue University
United States

 

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