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Kernel rootkits are a special category of malware that are deployed directly in the
kernel and hence have unmitigated reign over the functionalities of the kernel itself.
We seek to detect such rootkits that are deployed in the real world by first observing
how the majority of kernel rootkits operate. To this end, comparable to how rootkits
function in the real world, we write our own kernel rootkit that manipulates the network
driver, thus giving us control over all packets sent into the network.
We then implement a mechanism to thwart the attacks of such rootkits by noticing
that a large number of the rootkits deployed today rely heavily on the redirection of
function pointers within the kernel. By overwriting the desired function pointer to its
own function, a rootkit can perform a proverbial man-in-the-middle attack.
Our goal is not just the detection of kernel rootkits, but also to levy as little an
impact on system performance as possible. Hence our technique is to leverage existing
kernel functionalities (in the case of Linux) such as kprobes to identify potential attack
scenarios from within the sytem rather than from outside it (such as a VMM). We hope
to introduce real-world security in devices where performance and resource constraints
are tantamount to security considerations.
M.S. Thesis Proposal. Advisor: Sean W. Smith
Bibliographic citation for this report: [plain text] [BIB] [BibTeX] [Refer]
Or copy and paste:
Ashwin Ramaswamy, "Detecting kernel rootkits." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2008-627, September 2008.
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