Sharing More and Checking Less: Leveraging Common Input Keywords to Detect Bugs in Embedded Systems

USENIX Security 2021,

Libo Chen , Yanhao Wang , Quanpu Cai , Yunfan Zhan , Hong Hu , Jiaqi Linghu , Qinsheng Hou , Chao Zhang , Haixin Duan , Zhi Xue .


IoT devices have brought invaluable convenience to our daily life. However, their pervasiveness also amplifies the impact of security vulnerabilities. Many popular vulnerabilities of embedded systems reside in their vulnerable web services. Unfortunately, existing vulnerability detection methods cannot effectively nor efficiently analyze such web services: they either introduce heavy execution overheads or have many false positives and false negatives.

In this paper, we propose a novel static taint checking solution, SaTC, to effectively detect security vulnerabilities in web services provided by embedded devices. Our key insight is that, string literals on web interfaces are commonly shared between front-end files and back-end binaries to encode user input. We thus extract such common keywords from the front-end, and use them to locate reference points in the back-end, which indicate the input entry. Then, we apply targeted data-flow analysis to accurately detect dangerous uses of the un-trusted user input. We implemented a prototype of SaTC and evaluated it on 39 embedded system firmwares from six popular vendors. SaTC discovered 33 unknown bugs, of which 30are confirmed by CVE/CNVD/PSV. Compared to the state-of-the-art tool KARONTE, SaTC found significantly more bugs on the test set. It shows that, SaTC is effective in discovering bugs in embedded systems.