Making Information Hiding Effective Again

Zhe Wang, Chenggang Wu, Yinqian Zhang, Bowen Tang, Pen Chung Yew, Mengyao Xie, Yuanming Lai, Yan Kang, Yueqiang Cheng, Zhiping Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Information hiding (IH) is an important building block for many defenses against code reuse attacks, such as code-pointer integrity (CPI), control-flow integrity (CFI) and fine-grained code (re-)randomization, because of its effectiveness and performance. It employs randomization to probabilistically 'hide' sensitive memory areas, called safe areas, from attackers and ensures their addresses are not leaked by any pointers directly. These defenses used safe areas to protect their critical data, such as jump targets and randomization secrets. However, recent works have shown that IH is vulnerable to various attacks. In this article, we propose a new IH technique called SafeHidden. It continuously re-randomizes the locations of safe areas and thus prevents the attackers from probing and inferring the memory layout to find its location. A new thread-private memory mechanism is proposed to isolate the thread-local safe areas and prevent adversaries from reducing the randomization entropy. It also randomizes the safe areas after the TLB misses to prevent attackers from inferring the address of safe areas using cache side-channels. Existing IH-based defenses can utilize SafeHidden directly without any change. Our experiments show that SafeHidden not only prevents existing attacks effectively but also incurs low performance overhead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2576-2594
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Side channel attacks
  • TLB misses
  • information hiding
  • intra-process memory isolation


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