PtrSplit: Supporting general pointers in automatic program partitioning

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

47 Scopus citations


Partitioning a security-sensitive application into least-privileged components and putting each into a separate protection domain have long been a goal of security practitioners and researchers. However, a stumbling block to automatically partitioning C/C++ applications is the presence of pointers in these applications. Pointers make calculating data dependence, a key step in program partitioning, difficult and hard to scale; furthermore, C/C++ pointers do not carry bounds information, making it impossible to automatically marshall and unmarshall pointer data when they are sent across the boundary of partitions. In this paper, we propose a set of techniques for supporting general pointers in automatic program partitioning. Our system, called PtrSplit, constructs a Program Dependence Graph (PDG) for tracking data and control dependencies in the input program and employs a parameter-tree approach for representing data of pointer types; this approach is modular and avoids global pointer analysis. Furthermore, it performs selective pointer bounds tracking to enable automatic marshalling/unmarshalling of pointer data, even when there is circularity and arbitrary aliasing. As a result, PtrSplit can automatically generate executable partitions for C applications that contain arbitrary pointers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCCS 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781450349468
StatePublished - Oct 30 2017
Event24th ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2017 - Dallas, United States
Duration: Oct 30 2017Nov 3 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
ISSN (Print)1543-7221


Other24th ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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