Nioh: Hardening the hypervisor by filtering illegal I/O requests to virtual devices

Junya Ogasawara, Kenji Kono

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

6 Citations (Scopus)


Vulnerabilities in hypervisors are crucial in multi-Tenant clouds since they can undermine the security of all virtual machines (VMs) consolidated on a vulnerable hypervisor. Unfortunately, 107 vulnerabilities in KVM+QEMUand 38 vulnerabilities in Xen have been reported in 2016. The device-emulation layer in hypervisors is a hotbed of vulnerabilities because the code for virtualizing devices is complicated and requires knowledge on the device internals.We propose a "device request filter", called Nioh, that raises the bar for attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities in hypervisors. The key insight behind Nioh is that malicious I/O requests attempt to exploit vulnerabilities and violate device specifications in many cases. Nioh inspects I/O requests from VMs and rejects those that do not conform to a device specification.Adevice specification is modeled as a device automaton in Nioh, an extended automaton to facilitate the description of device specifications. The software framework is also provided to encapsulate the interactions between the device request filter and the underlying hypervisors. The results of our attack evaluation suggests that Nioh can defend against attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in device emulation, i.e., CVE-2015-5158, CVE-2016-1568, CVE-2016-4439, and CVE-2016-7909. This paper shows that the notorious VENOM attack can be detected and rejected by using Nioh.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 33rd Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2017
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450353458
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 4
Event33rd Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2017 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 2017 Dec 42017 Dec 8

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series
VolumePart F132521


Other33rd Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, ACSAC 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Virtual Device
  • Virtualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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