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Address space randomization for mobile devices

Hristo Bojinov
Dan Boneh
Rich Cannings
Iliyan Malchev
WiSec '11 - Proceedings of the fourth ACM conference on wireless network security, ACM, New York, NY (2011)


Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) is a defensive technique supported by many desktop and server operating systems. While smartphone vendors wish to make it available on their platforms, there are technical challenges in implementing ASLR on these devices. Pre-linking, limited processing power and restrictive update processes make it difficult to use existing ASLR implementation strategies even on the latest generation of smartphones. In this paper we introduce retouching, a mechanism for executable ASLR that requires no kernel modi fications and is suitable for mobile devices. We have implemented ASLR for the Android operating system and evaluated its effectiveness and performance. In addition, we introduce crash stack analysis, a technique that uses crash reports locally on the device, or in aggregate in the cloud to reliably detect attempts to brute-force ASLR protection. We expect that retouching and crash stack analysis will become standard techniques in mobile ASLR implementations.