SGXFUZZ: Efficiently Synthesizing Nested Structures for SGX Enclave Fuzzing

 October 27, 2022 at 5:01 pm



Intel's Software Guard Extensions (SGX) provide a nonintrospectable trusted execution environment (TEE) to protect security-critical code from a potentially malicious OS. This protection can only be effective if the individual enclaves are secure, which is already challenging in regular software, and this becomes even more difficult for enclaves as the entire environment is potentially malicious. As such, many enclaves expose common vulnerabilities, e.g., memory corruption and SGXspecific vulnerabilities like null-pointer dereferences. While fuzzing is a popular technique to assess the security of software, dynamically analyzing enclaves is challenging as enclaves are meant to be non-introspectable. Further, they expect an allocated multi-pointer structure as input instead of a plain buffer.

In this paper, we present SGXFUZZ, a coverage-guided fuzzer that introduces a novel binary input structure synthesis method to expose enclave vulnerabilities even without source-code access. To obtain code coverage feedback from enclaves, we show how to extract enclave code from distribution formats. We also present an enclave runner that allows execution of the extracted enclave code as a user-space application at native speed, while emulating all relevant environment interactions of the enclave. We use this setup to fuzz enclaves using a state-of-the-art snapshot fuzzing engine that deploys our novel structure synthesis stage. This stage synthesizes multi-layer pointer structures and size fields incrementally on-the-fly based on fault signals. Furthermore, it matches the expected input format of the enclave without any prior knowledge. We evaluate our approach on 30 open- and closed-source enclaves and found a total of 79 new bugs and vulnerabilities.


  • Enclave Dumping: Using the SGX driver, we completely extract executable enclave code on Windows and Linux in an automated way.
  • Enclave Runner: We show how to execute enclave code, including SGX-specific instructions, natively outside SGX to retrieve code coverage feedback.
  • Structure Synthesis: We present a method to synthesize multi-layer structures of pointers, arrays, and size fields using fuzzing.
  • Memory Location Havoc: To analyze whether enclaves are vulnerable to trust-boundary attacks, we develop a fuzzing stage that tries different memory locations for each of the pointers in the synthesized structure.
  • Fuzz Analysis: Utilizing the methods developed in this work, we analyze the security of 30 enclaves and found 79 new bugs and vulnerabilities. So far, a total of three CVEs were assigned and $13k in bug bounty were paid for the vulnerabilities we identified.
  • Limitations of Symbolic Execution: We analyze previous work on vulnerability detection using symbolic execution, discuss limitations, and extensively compare the results with SGXFUZZ.

I believe the most novel one in this paper is Structure Synthesis, which may also be related to another work.