What are in this section?
5.1 Research Contribution
In this project four main conditions for the buffer overflow to occur have been identified and analyzed while the demonstration shows how it happens. It is obvious this is a programming flaw because the problem can be resolved as early as during the coding stage. However, the buffer overflow effects can be seen until the developed program has been distributed to the end user where the damage already done.
The programs that vulnerable to buffer overflow cover a wide range of applications that include an OS kernel, device driver, database engine, embedded system, networking, user and web applications. This knowledge can be very useful input for the better buffer overflow detection and prevention mechanisms in the design and implementation aspects. Various types of current solution with their respective weaknesses and strengths also were discussed.
The current implementation on buffer detection and protection can be enhanced by stressing the solution more at the coding level, before the damage occurs; the following suggestions also have been proposed and discussed:
In order to stress on the knowledge usability, employer should start giving preference to the potential employee which having the secure coding knowledge and/or experiences in their resume. Hopefully, by having a better understanding on how and why the stack-based buffer overflow vulnerability and exploit, programmer that using C or other similar 'unsafe language' can avoid this problem at the earliest stage of their task in developing a program. Having a good knowledge where the buffer overflow vulnerability is possible to happen in the application development for example, will obviously contribute something that can improve the product’s quality, saving cost, man-hour and time. This is also supposed to be beneficial for other languages that use C as their base code so that the buffer overflow problem does not inherited and propagated.
The information provided in this part is actually extracted from the Finding and Discussion section. One future research that can be done is to find the relationship between the program size and speed when we add extra code for buffer overflow protection. This should be specific to buffer overflow codes and should be critical for large program. The effectiveness of the prior secure coding knowledge or training also could be measured when the topics of secure C/C++ coding included in C/C++ syllabus or suitable secure coding training is conducted. This also can be applied when implementing a comprehensive exception handling in C/C++ programming.
Another interesting thing to explore is to enhance the C/C++ editor or compiler with educational info of the buffer overflow problem such as through the intellisense feature. Research can be done to gauge the effectiveness of the implementation on reducing the buffer overflow problem.
This project does not emphasize on the compile and runtime detection and prevention solution other than implementing a comprehensive exception handling because of the many researches (mostly funded) have been carried out as discussed in the Literature Review section. Although it is out of programmer’s control, this does not mean it is not important. For example, the convention used for C function call, the way how the stack frame constructed and destroyed (also how the processor support the mechanism through its execution environment) may be reviewed and changed to the better and safer ways.
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|AMD||Advance Micro Device|
|ASLR||Address Space Layout Randomization|
|CERT||Computer Emergency Response Team|
|CPU||Central Processing Unit|
|CVE||Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures|
|DEP||Data Execution Prevention|
|DLL||Dynamic Link Library|
|EBP/ebp||extended base pointer|
|EIP/eip||extended instruction pointer|
|ESP/esp||extended stack pointer|
|GCC||GNU Compiler Collection|
|GOT||Global Offset Table|
|IDE||Integrated Development Environment|
|IDS||Intrusion Detection System|
|IEC||International Electrotechnical Commission|
|IOS||Internetwork Operating System|
|ISO||International Organization for Standardization|
|SEH||Structured Exception Handling|
|SQL||Structured Query Language|