Dartmouth logo Dartmouth College Computer Science
Technical Report series
CS home
TR home
TR search TR listserv
By author: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
By number: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986

Autoscopy Jr.: Intrusion Detection for Embedded Control Systems
Jason O. Reeves
Dartmouth TR2011-704

Abstract: Securing embedded control systems within the power grid presents a unique challenge: on top of the resource restrictions inherent to these devices, SCADA systems must also accommodate strict timing requirements that are non-negotiable, and their massive scale greatly amplifies costs such as power consumption. These constraints make the conventional approach to host intrusion detection--namely, employing virtualization in some manner--too costly or impractical for embedded control systems within critical infrastructure. Instead, we take an in-kernel approach to system protection, building upon the Autoscopy system developed by Ashwin Ramaswamy that places probes on indirectly-called functions and uses them to monitor its host system for behavior characteristic of control-flow-altering malware, such as rootkits. In this thesis, we attempt to show that such a method would indeed be a viable method of protecting embedded control systems.

We first identify several issues with the original prototype, and present a new version of the program (dubbed Autoscopy Jr.) that uses trusted location lists to verify that control is coming from a known, trusted location inside our kernel. Although we encountered additional performance overhead when testing our new design, we developed a kernel profiler that allowed us to identify the probes responsible for this overhead and discard them, leaving us with a final probe list that generated less than 5% overhead on every one of our benchmark tests. Finally, we attempted to run Autoscopy Jr. on two specialized kernels (one with an optimized probing framework, and another with a hardening patch installed), finding that the former did not produce enough performance benefits to preclude using our profiler, and that the latter required a different method of scanning for indirect functions for Autoscopy Jr. to operate.

We argue that Autoscopy Jr. is indeed a feasible intrusion detection system for embedded control systems, as it can adapt easily to a variety of system architectures and allows us to intelligently balance security and performance on these critical devices.

Note: M.S. Thesis. Advisor: Sergey Bratus. Builds upon work done in TR2009-644. REVISED on 27 September 2011 to correct one of the citations in the references section.


Bibliographic citation for this report: [plain text] [BIB] [BibTeX] [Refer]

Or copy and paste:
   Jason O. Reeves, "Autoscopy Jr.: Intrusion Detection for Embedded Control Systems." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2011-704, August 2011.

Notify me about new tech reports.

Search the technical reports.

To receive paper copy of a report, by mail, send your address and the TR number to reports AT cs.dartmouth.edu

Copyright notice: The documents contained in this server are included by the contributing authors as a means to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work on a non-commercial basis. Copyright and all rights therein are maintained by the authors or by other copyright holders, notwithstanding that they have offered their works here electronically. It is understood that all persons copying this information will adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

Technical reports collection maintained by David Kotz.