Fidelius Charm: Isolating Unsafe Rust Code

Hussain Almohri and David Evans
8th ACM Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy
Tempe, Arizona
March 2018


The Rust programming language has a safe memory model that promises to eliminate critical memory bugs. While the language is strong in doing so, its memory guarantees are lost when any unsafe blocks are used. Unsafe code is often needed to call library functions written in an unsafe language inside a Rust program. We present Fidelius Charm (FC), a system that protects a programmer-specified subset of data in memory from unauthorized access through vulnerable unsafe libraries. FC does this by limiting access to the program's memory while executing unsafe libraries. FC uses standard features of Rust and utilizes the Linux kernel as a trusted base for splitting the address space into a trusted privileged region under the control of functions written in Rust and a region available to unsafe external libraries. This paper presents our design and implementation of FC, presents two case studies for using FC in Rust TLS libraries, and reports on experiments showing its performance overhead is low for typical uses.


[PDF], 12 pages