Dynamic data flow tracking (DFT) deals with tagging and tracking data of interest as they propagate during program execution. DFT has been repeatedly implemented by a variety of tools for numerous purposes, including protection from zero-day and cross-site scripting attacks, detection and prevention of information leaks, and for the analysis of legitimate and malicious software. We present libdft, a dynamic DFT framework that unlike previous work is at once fast, reusable, and works with commodity software and hardware. libdft provides an API for building DFT-enabled tools that work on unmodified binaries, running on common operating systems and hardware, thus facilitating research and rapid prototyping.

We explore different approaches for implementing the low-level aspects of instruction-level data tracking, introduce a more efficient and 64-bit capable shadow memory, and identify (and avoid) the common pitfalls responsible for the excessive performance overhead of previous studies. We evaluate libdft using real applications with large codebases like the Apache and MySQL servers, and the Firefox web browser. We also use a series of benchmarks and utilities to compare libdft with similar systems. Our results indicate that it performs at least as fast, if not faster, than previous solutions, and to the best of our knowledge, we are the first to evaluate the performance overhead of a fast dynamic DFT implementation in such depth. Finally, libdft is freely available as open source software.


"libdft: Practical Dynamic Data Flow Tracking for Commodity Systems"
Vasileios P. Kemerlis, Georgios Portokalidis, Kangkook Jee, and Angelos D. Keromytis.
In Proceedings of the 8th ACM SIGPLAN/SIGOPS International Conference on Virtual Execution Environments (VEE). March 2012, London, UK.

"A General Approach for Efficiently Accelerating Software-based Dynamic Data Flow Tracking on Commodity Hardware"
Kangkook Jee, Georgios Portokalidis, Vasileios P. Kemerlis, Soumyadeep Ghosh, David I. August, and Angelos D. Keromytis.
In Proceedings of the 19th Internet Society (ISOC) Symposium on Network and Distributed System Security (NDSS). February 2012, San Diego, CA.

Source code

libdft is now available for download under modified BSD license. The release contains the source code for the core part of libdft along with a set of Pintools that demonstrate its capabilities.

libdft-3.1415alpha.tar.gz (87KB)