Exploitation techniques and defenses for data-oriented attacks

Long Cheng, Hans Liljestrand, Md Salman Ahmed, Thomas Nyman, Trent Jaeger, N. Asokan, Danfeng Daphne Yao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


Data-oriented attacks manipulate non-control data to alter a program's benign behavior without violating its control-flow integrity. It has been shown that such attacks can cause significant damage even in the presence of control-flow defense mechanisms. However, these threats have not been adequately addressed. In this systematization of knowledge (SoK) paper, we first map data-oriented exploits, including Data-Oriented Programming (DOP) and Block-Oriented Programming attacks, to their assumptions/requirements and attack capabilities. We also compare known defenses against these attacks, in terms of approach, detection capabilities, overhead, and compatibility. Then we discuss the possible frequency anomalies of data-oriented attacks, especially the frequency anomalies of DOP attacks with experimental proofs. It is generally believed that control flows may not be useful for data-oriented security. How-ever, the frequency anomalies show that data-oriented attacks (especially DOP attacks) may generate side-effects on control-flow behavior in multiple dimensions. In the end, we discuss challenges for building deployable data-oriented defenses and open research questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2019 IEEE Secure Development, SecDev 2019
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781538672891
StatePublished - Sep 2019
Event2019 IEEE Secure Development, SecDev 2019 - McLean, United States
Duration: Sep 25 2019Sep 27 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2019 IEEE Secure Development, SecDev 2019


Conference2019 IEEE Secure Development, SecDev 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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