Mariano Ceccato, Paolo Falcarin, Alessandro Cabutto, Yosief Weldezghi Frezghi, Cristian-Alexandru Staicu

Search Based Clustering for Protecting Software with Diversified Updates


Reverse engineering is usually the stepping stone of a variety of attacks aiming at identifying sensitive information (keys, credentials, data, algorithms) or vulnerabilities and flaws for broader exploitation. Software applications are usually deployed as identical binary code installed on millions of computers, enabling an adversary to develop a generic reverse-engineering strategy that, if working on one code instance, could be applied to crack all the other instances. A solution to mitigate this problem is represented by Software Diversity, which aims at creating several structurally different (but functionally equivalent) binary code versions out of the same source code, so that even if a successful attack can be elaborated for one version, it should not work on a diversified version. In this paper, we address the problem of maximizing software diversity from a search-based optimization point of view. The program to protect is subject to a catalogue of transformations to generate many candidate versions. The problem of selecting the subset of most diversified versions to be deployed is formulated as an optimisation problem, that we tackle with different search heuristics. We show the applicability of this approach on some popular Android apps.

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Maintainer: ceccato at fbk dot eu