FreeGuard: A Faster Secure Heap Allocator

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In spite of years of improvements to software security, heap-related attacks still remain a severe threat. One reason is that many existing memory allocators fall short in a variety of aspects. For instance, performance-oriented allocators are designed with very limited countermeasures against attacks, but secure allocators generally suffer from significant performance overhead, e.g., running up to 10x slower. This paper, therefore, introduces FreeGuard, a secure memory allocator that prevents or reduces a wide range of heap-related security attacks, such as heap overflows, heap over-reads, use-after-frees, as well as double and invalid frees. FreeGuard has similar performance to the default Linux allocator, with less than 2% overhead on average, but provides significant improvement to security guarantees.
Software and its engineering, Security and privacy
Sam Silvestro, Hongyu Liu, Corey Crosser, Zhiqiang Lin, and Tongping Liu. 2017. FreeGuard: A Faster Secure Heap Allocator. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS '17). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 2389–2403.