Automating Seccomp Filter Generation for Linux Applications

Claudio Alberto Canella, Mario Werner, Daniel Gruss, Michael Schwarz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Software vulnerabilities undermine the security of applications. By blocking unused functionality, the impact of potential exploits can be reduced. While seccomp provides a solution for filtering syscalls, it requires manual implementation of filter rules for each individual application. Recent work has investigated approaches to automate this task. However, as we show, these approaches make assumptions that are not necessary or require overly time-consuming analysis.

In this paper, we propose Chestnut, an automated approach for generating strict syscall filters with lower requirements and limitations. Chestnut comprises two phases, with the first phase consisting of two static components, i.e., a compiler and a binary analyzer, that statically extract the used syscalls. The compiler-based approach of Chestnut is up to factor 73 faster than previous approaches with the same accuracy. On the binary level, our approach extends over previous ones by also applying to non-PIC binaries. An optional second phase of Chestnut is dynamic refinement to restrict the set of allowed syscalls further. We demonstrate that Chestnut on average blocks 302 syscalls (86.5 %) via the compiler and 288 (82.5 %) using the binary analysis on a set of 18 applications. Chestnut blocks the dangerous exec syscall in 50 % and 77.7 % of the tested applications using the compiler- and binary-based approach, respectively. For the tested applications, Chestnut blocks exploitation of more than 61 % of the 175 CVEs that target the kernel via syscalls.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCCSW'21 - Proceedings of the 2021 Cloud Computing Security Workshop
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021
EventACM Cloud Computing Security Workshop 2021: CCS 2021 - Virtuell, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 15 Nov 202115 Nov 2021


WorkshopACM Cloud Computing Security Workshop 2021
Abbreviated titleCCSW '21
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


  • automated syscall filtering
  • linux
  • seccomp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Enter Sandbox

    Claudio Alberto Canella (Speaker), Mario Werner (Speaker) & Michael Schwarz (Speaker)

    6 May 2021

    Activity: Talk or presentationTalk at conference or symposiumScience to science

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