IJON: Exploring Deep State Spaces via Fuzzing

Cornelius Aschermann, Sergej Schumilo, Ali Abbasi, Thorsten Holz

IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy ("Oakland"), San Jose, CA, May 2020


Abstract

Although current fuzz testing (fuzzing) methods are highly effective, there are still many situations such as complex state machines where fully automated approaches fail. State-of-the-art fuzzing methods offer very limited ability for a human to interact and aid the fuzzer in such cases. More specifically, most current approaches are limited to adding a dictionary or new seed inputs to guide the fuzzer. When dealing with complex programs, these mechanisms are unable to uncover new parts of the code base.

In this paper, we propose IJON, an annotation mechanism that a human analyst can use to guide the fuzzer. In contrast to the two aforementioned techniques, this approach allows a more systematic exploration of the program’s behavior based on the data representing the internal state of the program. As a consequence, using only a small (usually one line) annotation, a user can help the fuzzer to solve previously unsolvable challenges. We extended various AFL-based fuzzers with the ability to annotate the source code of the target application with guidance hints. Our evaluation demonstrates that such simple annotations are able to solve problems that - to the best of our knowledge - no other current fuzzer or symbolic execution based tool can overcome. For example, with our extension, a fuzzer is able to play and solve games such as Super Mario Bros. or resolve more complex patterns such as hash map lookups. To further demonstrate the capabilities of our annotations, we use AFL combined with IJON to uncover both novel security issues and issues that previously required a custom and comprehensive grammar to be uncovered. Lastly, we show that using IJON and AFL, one can solve many challenges from the CGC data set that resisted all fully automated and human guided attempts so far.

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tags: fuzzing