The Threat of Virtualization: Hypervisor-Based Rootkits on the ARM Architecture
Robert Buhren, Julian Vetter, Jan C. Nordholz
The virtualization capabilities of today’s systems offer rootk-its excellent hideouts, where they are fairly immune to countermeasures. In this paper, we evaluate the vulnerability to hypervisor-based rootkits of ARM-based platforms, considering both ARMv7 and ARMv8. We implement a proof-of-concept rootkit to prove the validity of our findings. We then detail the anatomy of an attack wherein a hypervisor rootkit and a userspace process collaborate to undermine the isolation properties enforced by the Linux kernel. Based on our discoveries, we explore the possibilities of mitigating each attack vector. Finally, we discuss methods to detect such highly privileged rootkits so as to conceive more effective countermeasures.