Title page for ETD etd-06022008-034754

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McConnell, William Charles
Author's Email Address wmcconne@vt.edu
URN etd-06022008-034754
Title Visualizing Memory Utilization for the Purpose of Vulnerability analysis
Degree Master of Science
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Arthur, James D. Committee Chair
Balci, Osman Committee Member
North, Christopher L. Committee Member
  • main memory
  • memory API
  • data capturing
  • function hooks
  • exploits
  • security
  • resource utilization
  • visualization
  • software vulnerabilities
Date of Defense 2008-05-28
Availability unrestricted
The expansion of the internet over recent years has resulted in an increase in digital attacks on computers. Most attacks, including the more dangerous ones, directly target program vulnerabilities. The increase in attacks has prompted a need to develop new ways to classify, detect, and avoid vulnerabilities. The effectiveness of these goals relies on the development of new methods and tools that facilitate the process of detecting vulnerabilities and exploits.

This thesis presents the development of a tool that provides a visual representation of main memory for the purpose of security analysis. The tool provides new insight into memory utilization by software; users are able to see memory utilization as execution time progression, visually distinguish between memory behaviors (allocations, writes, etc), and visually observe special relationships between memory locations. The insight enables users to search for visual evidence that software is vulnerable, violated, or utilizing memory incorrectly.

The development process for our visual tool has three stages: (1) identifying the memory utilization policies of the Windows 32-bit operating system; (2) identifying the data required for visual representations of memory and then implementing one possible method to capture the data; and (3) enumerating and implementing requirements for a memory tool that generates visual representations of memory for the purpose of vulnerability and exploit analysis.

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