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  1. Software sandboxing or software-based fault isolation (SFI) is a lightweight approach to building secure systems out of untrusted components. Mozilla, for example, uses SFI to harden the Firefox browser by sandboxing third-party libraries, and companies like Fastly and Cloudflare use SFI to safely co-locate untrusted tenants on their edge clouds. While there have been significant efforts to optimize and verify SFI enforcement, context switching in SFI systems remains largely unexplored: almost all SFI systems use heavyweight transitions that are not only error-prone but incur significant performance overhead from saving, clearing, and restoring registers when context switching. We identify a set of zero-cost conditions that characterize when sandboxed code has sufficient structured to guarantee security via lightweight zero-cost transitions (simple function calls). We modify the Lucet Wasm compiler and its runtime to use zero-cost transitions, eliminating the undue performance tax on systems that rely on Lucet for sandboxing (e.g., we speed up image and font rendering in Firefox by up to 29.7% and 10% respectively). To remove the Lucet compiler and its correct implementation of the Wasm specification from the trusted computing base, we (1) develop a static binary verifier , VeriZero, which (in seconds) checks that binaries produced by Lucetmore »satisfy our zero-cost conditions, and (2) prove the soundness of VeriZero by developing a logical relation that captures when a compiled Wasm function is semantically well-behaved with respect to our zero-cost conditions. Finally, we show that our model is useful beyond Wasm by describing a new, purpose-built SFI system, SegmentZero32, that uses x86 segmentation and LLVM with mostly off-the-shelf passes to enforce our zero-cost conditions; our prototype performs on-par with the state-of-the-art Native Client SFI system.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 16, 2023
  2. WebAssembly (Wasm) is a platform-independent bytecode that offers both good performance and runtime isolation. To implement isolation, the compiler inserts safety checks when it compiles Wasm to native machine code. While this approach is cheap, it also requires trust in the compiler's correctness---trust that the compiler has inserted each necessary check, correctly formed, in each proper place. Unfortunately, subtle bugs in the Wasm compiler can break---and have broken---isolation guarantees. To address this problem, we propose verifying memory isolation of Wasm binaries post-compilation. We implement this approach in VeriWasm, a static offline verifier for native x86-64 binaries compiled from Wasm; we prove the verifier's soundness, and find that it can detect bugs with no false positives. Finally, we describe our deployment of VeriWasm at Fastly.
  3. We describe Swivel, a new compiler framework for hardening WebAssembly (Wasm) against Spectre attacks. Outside the browser, Wasm has become a popular lightweight, in-process sandbox and is, for example, used in production to isolate different clients on edge clouds and function-as-a-service platforms. Unfortunately, Spectre attacks can bypass Wasm's isolation guarantees. Swivel hardens Wasm against this class of attacks by ensuring that potentially malicious code can neither use Spectre attacks to break out of the Wasm sandbox nor coerce victim code—another Wasm client or the embedding process—to leak secret data. We describe two Swivel designs, a software-only approach that can be used on existing CPUs, and a hardware-assisted approach that uses extension available in Intel® 11th generation CPUs. For both, we evaluate a randomized approach that mitigates Spectre and a deterministic approach that eliminates Spectre altogether. Our randomized implementations impose under 10.3% overhead on the Wasm-compatible subset of SPEC 2006, while our deterministic implementations impose overheads between 3.3% and 240.2%. Though high on some benchmarks, Swivel's overhead is still between 9× and 36.3× smaller than existing defenses that rely on pipeline fences.