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Dynamic taint analysis is a powerful technique to detect memory corruption attacks. However, with typical overheads of an order of magnitude, current implementations are not suitable for most production systems. The research question the authors address in this paper is whether the slow-down is a fundamental speed barrier, or an artifact of bolting information flow tracking on emulators really not designed for it. In other words, they designed a new type of emulator from scratch with the goal of removing superfluous instructions to propagate taint. The results are very promising. The emulator, known as Minemu, incurs a slowdown of 1.5x-3x for real and complex applications and 2.4x for SPEC INT2006, while tracking taint at byte level granularity.
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