Feeds

Boffins boast newfangled rootkit blocker

Large scale, low overhead

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Scientists are set to unveil a lightweight system they say makes an operating system significantly more resistant to rootkits without degrading its performance.

The hypervisor-based system is dubbed HookSafe, and it works by relocating kernel hooks in a guest OS to a dedicated page-aligned memory space that's tightly locked down. The researchers, from Microsoft and the computer science department at North Carolina State University, plan to present their findings Thursday at the 16th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

The team installed HookSafe on a machine running Ubuntu 8.04, and found the system successfully prevented nine real-world rootkits targeting that platform from installing or hiding themselves. The program was able to achieve that protection with only a 6-percent reduction in performance benchmarks, making HookSafe "the first system that is proposed to enable large-scale hook protection with low performance overhead," the researchers said.

Rootkits that rely on a method known as kernel object hooking involve modifying kernel data hooks. Because they are scattered throughout the operating system memory, and often co-mingled with other kernel data, they are generally hard to protect. Scientists have dubbed the problem the "protection granularity gap" because effective protection requires byte-level granularity while commodity computers allow only for protection at the much broader page level.

The researchers worked around this limitation by relocating almost 5,900 kernel hooks scattered across 41 physical pages to a page-aligned central location. They then used a "thin hook indirection layer to regulate accesses to them with hardware-based page-level protection."

They tested the protected system against nine rootkits written for the Linux 2.6 kernel. Seven of them failed to install at all thanks to the memory protection, while the remaining two failed to hide themselves because of the hook indirection.

The researchers are Zhi Wang, Xuxian Jiang and Peng Ning of North Carolina State University and Weidong Cui of Microsoft Research. A PDF of their paper is available here. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.