Detecting Malicious Code in Firmware

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: F30602-01-C-0112
Agency Tracking Number: 011IF-0705
Amount: $99,985.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2001
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
317 N. Aurora Street, Ithaca, NY, 14850
DUNS: 603978321
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Paul Anderson
 Senior Software Engineer
 (607) 273-7340
Business Contact
 Ray(Tim) Teitelbaum
Title: Chairman
Phone: (607) 273-7340
Research Institution
The problem of detecting malicious code has focused until now on techniques that search a program's surface structure representations to find locations where suspicious constructs occur. Such techniques are fundamentally weaker than methods that operateon representations that capture a program's deep semantics. We propose to study the feasibility and plan the development of tools for detecting malicious code that operate on a program's dependence graph. This representation captures a program's essentialsemantics and enables sophisticated semantics-based queries to be posed. Our plan is targeted at semi-automatic solutions for finding occurrences of malicious code in firmware. This work will build on our own dependence-graph based COTS product forprogram understanding named CodeSurfer. We will address the problem of generating dependence graphs from multiple machine languages using generic disassembly and decompilation techniques. We will plan the integration of these tools with CodeSurfer. Wewill develop queries for tell-tale signs of malicious code in firmware, and design a user-interface to help security analysts make the final determination of maliciousness. We will investigate methods for firmware editing to permit implementation ofdamage mitigation strategies. Finally we will develop a set of metrics that can be used to measure the success of our techniques.The proposed system will be of use in the semi-automatic detection of malicious code in firmware and other machine-coderepresentations of programs. This system will be of benefit to companies wishing to show that their firmware implementations are secure, and to others wishing to understand machine-code level programs.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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