Address space layout randomization next generation

Hector Marco Gisbert, Ismael Ripoll

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
177 Downloads (Pure)


Systems that are built using low-power computationally-weak devices, which force developers to favor performance over security; which jointly with its high connectivity, continuous and autonomous operation makes those devices specially appealing to attackers. ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) is one of the most effective mitigation techniques against remote code execution attacks, but when it is implemented in a practical system its effectiveness is jeopardized by multiple constraints: the size of the virtual memory space, the potential fragmentation problems, compatibility limitations, etc. As a result, most ASLR implementations (specially in 32-bits) fail to provide the necessary protection. In this paper we propose a taxonomy of all ASLR elements, which categorizes the entropy in three dimensions: (1) how, (2) when and (3) what; and includes novel forms of entropy. Based on this taxonomy we have created, ASLRA, an advanced statistical analysis tool to assess the effectiveness of any ASLR implementation. Our analysis show that all ASLR implementations suffer from several weaknesses, 32-bit systems provide a poor ASLR, and OS X has a broken ASLR in both 32- and 64-bit systems. This is jeopardizing not only servers and end users devices as smartphones but also the whole IoT ecosystem. To overcome all these issues, we present ASLR-NG, a novel ASLR that provides the maximum possible absolute entropy and removes all correlation attacks making ASLR-NG the best solution for both 32- and 64-bit systems. We implemented ASLR-NG in the Linux kernel 4.15. The comparative evaluation shows that ASLR-NG overcomes PaX, Linux and OS X implementations, providing strong protection to prevent attackers from abusing weak ASLRs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2928
Number of pages25
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2019


  • Security
  • Internet of things address space layout randomisation
  • Vulnerability analysis
  • Protection techniques


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