Runtime Enforcement of Memory Safety for the C Programming Language

Runtime Enforcement of Memory Safety for the C Programming Language

218 Pages · 2011 · 1.33 MB · English

Abstract Titleofdissertation: Runtime Enforcement of Memory Safety for the C Programming Language MatthewStephenSimpson,DoctorofPhilosphy,2011 Dissertationdirectedby

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Abstract Title of dissertation: Runtime Enforcement of Memory Safety for the C Programming Language Matthew Stephen Simpson, Doctor of Philosphy, 2011 Dissertation directed by: Professor Rajeev BaruaMemory access violations are a leading source of unreliability in C programs Although the lowlevel features of the C programming language, like unchecked pointer arithmetic and explicit memory management, make it a desirable language for many programming tasks, their use often results in hardtodetect memory errors As evidence of this problem, a variety of methods exist for retrotting C with software checks to detect memory errors at runtime However, these techniques generally suer from one or more practical drawbacks that have thus far limited their adoption These weaknesses include the inability to detect all spatial and temporal violations, the use of incompatible metadata, the need for manual code modications, and the tremendous runtime cost of providing complete safety This dissertation introduces MemSafe, a compiler analysis and transformation for ensuring the memory safety of C programs at runtime while avoiding the above draw backs MemSafe makes several novel contributions that improve upon previous work and lower the runtime cost of achieving memory safety These include (1) a method for modeling temporal errors as spatial errors, (2) a hybrid metadata representation that combines the most salient features of both object and pointerbased approaches, and (3) a dataow representation that simplies optimizations for removing unneeded checks and unused metadata Experimental results indicate that MemSafe is capable of detecting memory safety violations in realworld programs with lower runtime overhead than previous methods Results show that MemSafe detects all known memory errors in multiple versions of two large and widelyused open source applications as well as six programs from a benchmark suite specically designed for the evaluation of error detection tools MemSafe enforces complete safety with an average overhead of 88% on 30 widelyused performance evaluation benchmarks In comparison with previous work, MemSafe's average runtime overhead for one common benchmark suite (29%) is a fraction of that associated with the previous technique (133%) that, until now, had the lowest overhead among all existing complete and automatic methods that are capable of detecting both spatial and temporal violations Runtime Enforcement of Memory Safety for the C Programming Language by Matthew Stephen Simpson Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park in partial fulllment of the requirements for the degree ofDoctor of Philosophy 2011 Advisory Committee: Professor Rajeev Barua, Chair Professor Shuvra Bhattacharyya Professor Michael Hicks Professor ChauWen Tseng Professor Donald Yeung c Copyright by Matthew Stephen Simpson 2011 AcknowledgementsThere are several people I would like to thank who were instrumental in the completion of my doctoral dissertation and my graduate studies in general Foremost among these are my parents, Steve and Judy Simpson I thank them for their constant love, support, and patience while completing my graduate studies They instilled in me, at an early age, the hard work and disciple required for pursing a doctoral degree, and my achievement is a reection of their own success as parents I will never be able to thank them enough for all that they have done for me I would like to thank my advisor, Dr Rajeev Barua Dr Barua became my advisor in the fall semester of 2004, but we had previously worked together the year before when I participated in a summerlong research program for undergraduate students My experience at the University of Maryland then was enormously inuential in the overall trajectory of my academic endeavors, and I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to return as a graduate student His advice throughout these years has made me a much better writer and researcher and also given me insight into the challenges and rewards associated with a career in academia Many of the ideas presented in this dissertation are the direct result of our conversations and discussions, and it is fair to say that without his eager support and extensive knowledge of

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