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Friday, November 4 • 4:45pm - 5:30pm
Using LLVM to guarantee program integrity

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There are many embedded systems on which we rely heavily in our day to day lives, and for these it is crucial to ensure that these systems are as robust as possible. To this end, it is important to have strong guarantees about the integrity of running code. Achieving this naturally requires close integration between hardware features and compiler toolchain support for these features. 

To achieve this, an NXP architecture uses hardware signing to ensure integrity of a program's control flow from modification. Each instruction's interpretation depends on the preceding instruction in the execution flow (and hence the sequence of all preceding instructions). Basic blocks require a “correction value” to bring the system into a consistent state when arriving from different predecessors. Compiler support is needed for this such that compiled code can receive the benefits of this feature. 

Over the past year we have implemented the infrastructure for this feature which can be enabled on a per-function level in LLVM, for functions written in both C and/or assembly. In this talk we will present this system, and show how it enforces control flow integrity. 

We will explain how we have extended our target’s backend with a pass that produces metadata describing a system’s control flow. This allows branches and calls to be resolved with appropriate correction values. A particular challenge is dealing with function pointers and hence indirect transfers of control. We will also describe the implementation of user attributes to support such functionality in Clang. 

The encoding of each instruction, and the correction values cannot be finally determined until the final programs is linked. Using the metadata generated by LLVM, we can recreate the control flow graph for the entire program. From this, each instruction can be signed, and the correction values for each basic block inserted into the binary. 

We will finish with a demonstration of this system in action.

avatar for Simon Cook

Simon Cook

Compiler Engineer, Embecosm

Friday November 4, 2016 4:45pm - 5:30pm PDT
2 - Technical Talk (Rm LL21AB)