HardsHeap: A Universal and Extensible Framework for Evaluating Secure Allocators


Secure allocators have been extensively studied to mitigate heap vulnerabilities. They employ safe designs and randomized mechanisms to stop or mitigate heap exploitation. Despite extensive research efforts, secure allocators can only be evaluated by with theoretical analysis or pre-defined data sets, which are insufficient to effectively reflect powerful adversaries in the real world.

In this paper, we present HardsHeap, an automatic tool for evaluating secure allocators. The key idea of HardsHeap is to use random testing (i.e., fuzzing) to evaluate secure allocators. To handle the diverse properties of secure allocators, HardsHeap supports an extensible framework, making it easy to write a validation logic for each property. Moreover, HardsHeap employs sampling-based testing, which enables us to evaluate a probabilistic mechanism prevalent in secure allocators. To eliminate redundancy in findings from HardsHeap, we devise a new technique called Statistical Significance Delta Debugging (SSDD), which extends the existing delta debugging for stochastically reproducible test cases.

We evaluated HardsHeap to 10 secure allocators. Consequently, we found 56 interesting test cases, including several unsecure yet underestimated behaviors for handling large objects in secure allocators. Moreover, we discovered 10 implementation bugs. One of the bugs is integer overflow in secure allocators, making them even more invulnerable than ordinary allocators. Our evaluation also shows that SSDD successfully reduces test cases by 37.2% on average without a loss of reproducibility.

Proceedings of the 28th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS)