Gershuni, Elazar and Amit, Nadav and Gurfinkel, Arie and Narodytska, Nina and Navas, Jorge A. and Rinetzky, Noam and Ryzhyk, Leonid and Sagiv, Mooly

ACM Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), 2019

Extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) is a Linux subsystem that allows safely executing untrusted user-defined extensions inside the kernel. It relies on static analysis to protect the kernel against buggy and malicious extensions. As the eBPF ecosystem evolves to support more complex and diverse extensions, the limitations of its current verifier, including high rate of false positives, poor scalability, and lack of support for loops, have become a major barrier for developers. We design a static analyzer for eBPF within the framework of abstract interpretation. Our choice of abstraction is based on common patterns found in many eBPF programs. We observed that eBPF programs manipulate memory in a rather disciplined way which permits analyzing them successfully with a scalable mixture of very-precise abstraction of certain bounded regions with coarser abstractions of other parts of the memory. We use the Zone domain, a simple domain that tracks differences between pairs of registers and offsets, to achieve precise and scalable analysis. We demonstrate that this abstraction is as precise in practice as more costly abstract domains like Octagon and Polyhedra. Furthermore, our evaluation, based on hundreds of real-world eBPF programs, shows that the new tool generates no more false alarms than the existing Linux verifier, while it supports a wider class of programs (including programs with loops) and has better asymptotic complexity.