S&P 2024
Conference paper

Automated Synthesis of Effect Graph Policies for Microservice-Aware Stateful System Call Specialization

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We present a hybrid program analysis framework that automates the synthesis of stateful system call policies that describe admissible behaviors of containerized programs. Given a container image as input, the framework generates a reference policy that encodes a security automaton obtained by symbolically micro-executing the corresponding container’s binary entrypoint under the constraints extracted from the container image metadata and environment. We demonstrate the utility and practicality of our approach by synthesizing security policies for 25 challenges in the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) corpus, 5 real-world containerized programs, including the widely used NGINX web server, and a complete microservice application from public benchmarks. We run each program or microservice using both benign and attack scenarios under the protection of a runtime policy monitor. Furthermore, we evaluate our approach by comparing our synthesized policies to those generated by four state-of-the-art system call specialization tools. Our results demonstrate that our techniques can scale to large programs and accurately extract concise reference application models for security monitoring.