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How to kill symbolic deobfuscation for free (or: unleashing the potential of path-oriented protections)

Abstract : Code obfuscation is a major tool for protecting software intellectual property from attacks such as reverse engineering or code tampering. Yet, recently proposed (automated) attacks based on Dynamic Symbolic Execution (DSE) shows very promising results, hence threatening software integrity. Current defenses are not fully satisfactory, being either not efficient against symbolic reasoning , or affecting runtime performance too much, or being too easy to spot. We present and study a new class of anti-DSE pro-tections coined as path-oriented protections targeting the weakest spot of DSE, namely path exploration. We propose a lightweight, efficient, resistant and analytically proved class of obfuscation algorithms designed to hinder DSE-based attacks. Extensive evaluation demonstrates that these approaches critically counter symbolic deobfuscation while yielding only a very slight overhead. CCS CONCEPTS • Security and privacy → Software reverse engineering; Logic and verification; Malware and its mitigation; • Software and its engineering → Formal methods.
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Contributor : Jean-Yves Marion <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, May 13, 2020 - 9:10:49 AM
Last modification on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 2:28:57 AM


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Mathilde Ollivier, Sébastien Bardin, Richard Bonichon, Jean-Yves Marion. How to kill symbolic deobfuscation for free (or: unleashing the potential of path-oriented protections). ACSAC '19: 2019 Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, Dec 2019, San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States. pp.177-189, ⟨10.1145/3359789.3359812⟩. ⟨hal-02564103⟩



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