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Protecting Against Tainted Data in Embedded Apps with Static Analysis

November 1, 2018

Attacks against embedded systems are growing in frequency as malicious hackers become more sophisticated in their methods. These vulnerabilities are being exploited by hostile users to gain access to a system so they may subvert its use. These exploits are typically triggered when a hostile user sends data over an input channel. 

Programmers can defend against these defects by treating input data as potentially hazardous (tainted) and carefully checking the data for validity before use. It is challenging, though, to find these locations because it requires manually tracing the flow of data through the program. This paper describes a static analysis technique – taint analysis – that can be used to find how potentially hazardous inputs can flow through a program to reach sensitive parts of code, empowering developers to identify and eliminate these dangerous vulnerabilities much more effectively.

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