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Data Execution Prevention

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By Jmack23
Words 475
Pages 2
Data Execution Prevention

What is Data Execution Prevention or DEP? A set of hardware and software technologies that perform additional checks on memory to help prevent malicious code from running on a system. What that means is it is basically the virus scanner of your memory looking for intrusions into your computer. DEP can be enforced by both hardware and software applications. Some of the major benefits are to help prevent code execution from data pages. How this is accomplished is by checking where the code is running this is done by software enforced DEP. Code is not typically executed from a default heap and the stack, this is how the software application can detect if there is code running from an inappropriate area.
The first type of DEP we will talk about is the Hardware-enforced DEP. Hardware-enforced DEP marks all memory locations in a process as non-executable unless the location explicitly contains executable code. A class of attacks exists that tries to insert and run code from non-executable memory locations. DEP helps prevent these attacks by intercepting them and raising an exception.

Hardware-enforced DEP relies on processor hardware to mark memory with an attribute that indicates that code should not be executed from that memory. DEP functions on a per-virtual memory page basis, and DEP typically changes a bit in the page table entry (PTE) to mark the memory page.

Software enforced DEP is the other side of the coin. An additional set of Data Execution Prevention security checks have been added to Windows XP SP2. These checks, known as software-enforced DEP, are designed to block malicious code that takes advantage of exception-handling mechanisms in Windows. Software-enforced DEP runs on any processor that can run Windows XP SP2. By default, software-enforced DEP helps protect only limited system binaries, regardless of the hardware-enforced DEP capabilities of the processor.
The primary benefit of DEP is that it helps prevent code execution from data pages, such as the default heap pages, various stack pages, and memory pool pages. Typically, code is not executed from the default heap and the stack. Hardware-enforced DEP detects code that is running from these locations and raises an exception when execution occurs. If the exception is unhandled, the process will be stopped. Execution of code from protected memory in kernel mode causes a Stop error.

The major benefits of DEP can help block a class of security intrusions. Specifically, DEP can help block a malicious program in which a virus or other type of attack has injected a process with additional code and then tries to run the injected code. On a system with DEP, execution of the injected code causes an exception. Software-enforced DEP can help block programs that take advantage of exception-handling mechanisms in Windows.

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