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The DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge

Cyberdyne: Automatic Bugfinding at Scale

Creating a scalable, distributed bug-finding system that is more than just the sum of its parts is challenging. Finding bugs that occur deep within a program's execution requires the application of multiple bug-finding approaches (e.g. fuzzing, symbolic execution, static analysis). How to profitably combine multiple bug-finding techniques is not obvious. This talk will describe the practical aspects of how to design and implement such a system, using Cyberdyne as a running example.

Cyberdyne is a distributed, automatic bug-finding system, originally developed to compete in the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC). Cyberdyne finds and fixes bugs in program binaries, without human intervention. Cyberdyne combines off-the-shelf and custom bug-finding tools into a unified, scalable system.

The first half of this talk describes Cyberdyne's exoskeleton: the service-oriented architecture (SOA) that coordinates Cyberdyne's bug-finding tools, triages and patches bugs, and validates that patches maintain program functionality. The second half of this talk describes Cyberdyne's "machine intelligence": the individual bug-finding tools, and the mechanism by which they cooperate to find deep program bugs.

Making a Scalable Automated Hacking System

DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge is a contest to automate vulnerability discovery and patching. Trail of Bits participated in the qualifying event held this past June (2015), and, well, didn’t qualify. While other teams are heads down preparing for the CGC final event (to be held on August 4th in Las Vegas), I can talk about what our team did right and what our team did wrong.

In this presentation, I’ll tell the story of our Cyber Grand Challenge adventure, explain how to automatically find and patch bugs in binary code, and discuss what’s next for our bug finding system.

The story will describe how our small team of internationally distributed engineers made an automated bug finding system that placed 2nd in vulnerability discovery. I will cover both the fun parts and the necessary-but-boring-parts of automated bug finding. Fun parts include combining existing fuzzing and symbolic execution tools into one coherent system, and making fuzzing fast by identifying and eliminating performance bottlenecks. The necessary-but-boring-parts include automated testing, deployment, and configuration management, otherwise known as devops.

Second, I’ll talk about how to patch bugs by translating binaries to LLVM bitcode, patching the bitcode, and re-emitting working patched binaries. I will cover different patching strategies and the requirements for each approach. I will also discuss instrumentation techniques, transformation operations, and analysis passes that are enabled by LLVM translation.

Finally, I will talk about how researchers should fundamentally change the way bug finding tools are developed. Currently each tool is its own discrete island. However, there are quantifiable benefits to be gained by applying the Unix philosophy of discrete, communicating tools to the problem of bug finding.

Trail of Bits Cyber Reasoning System (CRS) Demo

We built an autonomous robot to fight and destroy insecure software as part of a DARPA competition. It uses symbolic execution, fuzzing, binary translation, dynamic instrumentation, and more to identify and fix vulnerabilities without any human guidance. We will describe the high-level architecture of our system, how well it works, and difficulties we overcame during the development process.


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  • Artem Dinaburg
  • Peter Goodman
  • Felipe Manzano
  • Car Bauer
  • Ryan Stortz
  • Andrew Ruef
  • Kareem El-Faramawi
  • Loren Maggiore