Intertwining ROP Gadgets and Opaque Predicates for Robust Obfuscation [article]

Fukutomo Nakanishi, Giulio De Pasquale, Daniele Ferla, Lorenzo Cavallaro
2020 arXiv   pre-print
Software obfuscation plays a crucial role in protecting intellectual property in software from reverse engineering attempts. While some obfuscation techniques originate from the obfuscation-reverse engineering arms race, others stem from different research areas, such as binary software exploitation. Return-oriented programming (ROP) gained popularity as one of the most effective exploitation techniques for memory error vulnerabilities. ROP interferes with our natural perception of a process
more » ... trol flow, which naturally inspires us to repurpose ROP as a robust and effective form of software obfuscation. Although previous work already explores ROP's effectiveness as an obfuscation technique, evolving reverse engineering research raises the need for principled reasoning to understand the strengths and limitations of ROP-based mechanisms against man-at-the-end (MATE) attacks. To this end, we propose ROPFuscator, a fine-grained obfuscation framework for C/C++ programs using ROP. We incorporate opaque predicates and constants and a novel instruction hiding technique to withstand sophisticated MATE attacks. More importantly, we introduce a realistic and unified threat model to thoroughly evaluate ROPFuscator and provide principled reasoning on ROP-based obfuscation techniques that answer to code coverage, incurred overhead, correctness, robustness, and practicality challenges.
arXiv:2012.09163v1 fatcat:uvpg73ewxbh2xoooefkbuu4osm