Uninformed: Informative Information for the Uninformed

Vol 9» 2008.Jan

Next: Introduction

Improving Software Security Analysis using Exploitation Properties




Reliable exploitation of software vulnerabilities has continued to become more difficult as formidable mitigations have been established and are now included by default with most modern operating systems. Future exploitation of software vulnerabilities will rely on either discovering ways to circumvent these mitigations or uncovering flaws that are not adequately protected. Since the majority of the mitigations that exist today lack universal bypass techniques, it has become more fruitful to take the latter approach. It is in this vein that this paper introduces the concept of exploitation properties and describes how they can be used to better understand the exploitability of a system irrespective of a particular vulnerability. Perceived exploitability is of utmost importance to both an attacker and to a defender given the presence of modern mitigations. The ANI vulnerability (MS07-017) is used to help illustrate these points by acting as a simple example of a vulnerability that may have been more easily identified as code that should have received additional scrutiny by taking exploitation properties into consideration.