Cornell Department of Computer Science Colloquium
4:15pm Thursday, September 6, 2001
B17 Upson Hall

HEALERS: Tools for increasing the robustness of systems.

Christof Fetzer
AT&T Research

Within the HEALERS project we are developing several tools to increase the robustness of systems. These tools are designed to prevent, detect, and mask various kinds of hardware and software failures. In this talk I will concentrate on a tool to generate robustness wrappers. This tool can generate a variety of wrappers for C library functions. The main emphasis is on detecting interface failures, i.e., to detect when a client calls a C library function with invalid arguments. Many interface failures are not detected by the standard C library and often result in crash failures. The detection of interface failures permits us 1) to detect and prevent certain buffer overflow attacks, 2) pass the Ballista robustness test, and 3) collect information about what interface failures occur in real systems. Our wrappers are transparent to existing programs and do not require source code modification nor recompilation. Experimental results on Linux machines indicate that the performance overhead is small.

(Joint work with Zhen Xiao).

Host: Ken Birman