Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2022

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StateDiver: Testing Deep Packet Inspection Systems with State-Discrepancy Guidance

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) systems are essential for securing modern networks (e.g., blocking or logging abnormal network connections). However, DPI systems are known to be vulnerable in their implementations, which could be exploited for evasion attacks. Due to the critical role DPI systems play, many efforts have been made to detect vulnerabilities in the DPI systems through manual inspection, symbolic execution, and fuzzing, which suffer from either poor scalability, path explosion, or inappropriate feedback. In this paper, based on our observation that a DPI system usually reaches an abnormal internal state before a forbidden packet passes through it, we propose a fuzzing framework that prioritizes inputs/mutations which could trigger the DPI system's abnormal internal states. Further, to avoid deep understanding of the DPI systems under inspection (e.g., to identify the abnormal states), we feed one pair of inputs to multiple DPI systems and check whether the state changes of these DPI systems are consistent — an inconsistent internal state change/transference in one of the DPI systems indicates a new abnormal state is reached in the corresponding DPI system. Naturally, inputs that trigger new abnormal states are preferentially selected for mutation to generate new inputs. Following this idea, we develop StateDiver, the first fuzzing framework that uses the state discrepancy between different DPI systems as feedback to find more bypassing strategies. We make StateDiver publicly available online. With the help of StateDiver, we tested 3 famous open-source DPI systems (Snort, Snort++, and Suricata) and discovered 16 bypass strategies (8 new and 8 previously known). We have reported all the vulnerabilities to the vendors and received one CVE by the time of paper writing. We also compared StateDiver with Geneva, the state-of-the-art fuzzing tool for detecting DPI bugs. Results showed that StateDiver outperformed Geneva at the number and speed of finding vulnerabilities, indicating the ability of StateDiver to detect strategies bypassing DPI systems effectively.

Zhechang Zhang
Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Bin Yuan
Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Kehan Yang
Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Deqing Zou
Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Hai Jin
Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Paper (ACM DL)



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