Dipl.-Ing. Michael Rodler

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Dipl.-Ing. Michael Rodler

S-GW 309
+49 201 18-37019
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Michael Rodler is currently working and pursuing his PhD as a research assistant for Secure Software Systems at the University Duisburg-Essen. His research focus is on (1) low-level systems security and exploit mitigations for data-only attacks and (2) security of smart contracts. Previously he worked on dynamic analysis of android applications. He also worked in the security industry, mainly in the area of secure software development.

Curriculum Vitae:

since 08/2017

Research Assistant at University Duisburg-Essen

10/2013 - 06/2017

Master degree course Computer Science at Technical University Graz (graduated with Dipl.-Ing. equivalent to MSc)

10/2009 - 07/2013

Study program Secure Information Systems at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria Campus Hagenberg (graduated with BSc)


  • Bernhard, Lukas; Rodler, Michael; Holz, Thorsten; Davi, Lucas: xTag: Mitigating Use-After-Free Vulnerabilities via Software-Based Pointer Tagging on Intel x86-64. In: Proc. of 7th IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy. 2022. Full textCitationDetails

    Memory safety in complex applications implemented in unsafe programming languages such as C/C++ is still an unresolved problem in practice. Such applications were often developed in an ad-hoc, security-ignorant fashion, and thus they contain many types of security issues. Many different types of defenses have been proposed in the past to mitigate these problems, some of which are even widely used in practice. However, advanced attacks are still able to circumvent these defenses, and the arms race is not (yet) over. On the defensive side, the most promising next step is a tighter integration of the hardware and software level: modern mitigation techniques are either accelerated using hardware extensions or implemented in the hardware by extensions of the instruction set architecture (ISA). In particular, memory tagging, as proposed by ARM or SPARC, promises to solve many issues for practical memory safety. Unfortunately, Intel x86-64, which represents the most important ISA for both the desktop and server domain, lacks support for hardware-accelerated memory tagging, so memory tagging is not considered practical for this platform. In this paper, we present the design and implementation of an efficient, software-only pointer tagging scheme for Intel x86-64 based on a novel metadata embedding scheme. The basic idea is to alias multiple virtual pages to one physical page so that we can efficiently embed tag bits into a pointer. Furthermore, we introduce several optimizations that significantly reduce the performance impact of this approach to memory tagging. Based on this scheme, we propose a novel use-after-free mitigation scheme, called xTag, that offers better performance and strong security properties compared to state-of-the-art methods. We also show how double-free vulnerabilities can be mitigated. Our approach is highly compatible, allowing pointers to be passed back and forth between instrumented and non-instrumented code without losing metadata, and it is even compatible with inline assembly. We conclude that building exploit mitigation mechanisms on top of our memory tagging scheme is feasible on Intel x86-64, as demonstrated by the effective prevention of use-after-free bugs in the Firefox web browser.

  • Paaßen, David; Surminski, Sebastian; Rodler, Michael; Davi, Lucas: My Fuzzer Beats Them All! Developing a Framework for Fair Evaluation and Comparison of Fuzzers. In: Proc. of 26th European Symposium on Research in Computer Security. Springer International Publishing, Darmstadt 2021. CitationDetails
  • Rodler, Michael; Li, Wenting; Karame, Ghassan O.; Davi, Lucas: EVMPatch: Timely and Automated Patching of Ethereum Smart Contracts. In: Proc. of 30th USENIX Security Symposium. USENIX Association, Vancouver, B.C., Canada 2021. Full textCitationDetails

    Recent attacks exploiting errors in smart contract code had devastating consequences thereby questioning the benefits of this technology. It is currently highly challenging to fix errors and deploy a patched contract in time. Instant patching is especially important since smart contracts are always online due to the distributed nature of blockchain systems. They also manage considerable amounts of assets, which are at risk and often beyond recovery after an attack. Existing solutions to upgrade smart contracts depend on manual and error-prone processes. This paper presents a framework, called EVMPatch, to instantly and automatically patch faulty smart contracts. EVMPatch features a bytecode rewriting engine for the popular Ethereum blockchain, and transparently/automatically rewrites common off-the-shelf contracts to upgradable contracts. The proof-of-concept implementation of EVMPatch automatically hardens smart contracts that are vulnerable to integer over/underflows and access control errors, but can be easily extended to cover more bug classes. Our evaluation on 14,000 real-world contracts demonstrates that our approach successfully blocks attack transactions launched on contracts, while keeping the intended functionality of the contract intact. We perform a study with experienced software developers, showing that EVMPatch is practical, and reduces the time for converting a given Solidity smart contract to an upgradable contract by 97.6 %, while ensuring functional equivalence to the original contract.

  • Cloosters, Tobias; Rodler, Michael; Davi, Lucas: TeeRex: Discovery and Exploitation of Memory Corruption Vulnerabilities in SGX Enclaves. In: Proc. of 29th USENIX Security Symposium. 2020. Full textCitationDetails

    Intel's Software Guard Extensions (SGX) introduced new instructions to switch the processor to enclave mode which protects it from introspection. While the enclave mode strongly protects the memory and the state of the processor, it cannot withstand memory corruption errors inside the enclave code. In this paper, we show that the attack surface of SGX enclaves provides new challenges for enclave developers as exploitable memory corruption vulnerabilities are easily introduced into enclave code. We develop TeeRex to automatically analyze enclave binary code for vulnerabilities introduced at the host-to-enclave boundary by means of symbolic execution. Our evaluation on public enclave binaries reveal that many of them suffer from memory corruption errors allowing an attacker to corrupt function pointers or perform arbitrary memory writes. As we will show, TeeRex features a specifically tailored framework for SGX enclaves that allows simple proof-of-concept exploit construction to assess the discovered vulnerabilities. Our findings reveal vulnerabilities in multiple enclaves, including enclaves developed by Intel, Baidu, and WolfSSL, as well as biometric fingerprint software deployed on popular laptop brands.

    Full TextSlidesPresentation Video

  • Adepu, Sridhar; Brasser, Ferdinand; Garcia, Luis; Rodler, Michael; Davi, Lucas; Sadeghi, Ahmad-Reza; Zonouz, Saman: Control Behavior Integrity for Distributed Cyber-Physical Systems. In: 11th IEEE/ACM Conference on Cyber-Physical Systems (ICCPS'20). 2020. CitationDetails
  • Rodler, Michael; Li, Wenting; Karame, Ghassan; Davi, Lucas: Sereum: Protecting Existing Smart Contracts Against Re-Entrancy Attacks. In: Proc. of 26th Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS). 2019. Full textCitationDetails

    Recently, a number of existing blockchain systems have witnessed major bugs and vulnerabilities within smart contracts. Although the literature features a number of proposals for securing smart contracts, these proposals mostly focus on proving the correctness or absence of a certain type of vulnerability within a contract, but cannot protect deployed (legacy) contracts from being exploited. In this paper, we address this problem in the context of re-entrancy exploits and propose a novel smart contract security technology, dubbed Sereum (Secure Ethereum), which protects existing, deployed contracts against re-entrancy attacks in a backwards compatible way based on run-time monitoring and validation. Sereum does neither require any modification nor any semantic knowledge of existing contracts. By means of implementation and evaluation using the Ethereum blockchain, we show that Sereum covers the actual execution flow of a smart contract to accurately detect and prevent attacks with a false positive rate as small as 0.06% and with negligible run-time overhead. As a by-product, we develop three advanced re-entrancy attacks to demonstrate the limitations of existing offline vulnerability analysis tools.

  • Surminski, Sebastian; Rodler, Michael; Davi, Lucas: Poster: Automated Evaluation of Fuzzers - Distinguished Technical Poster Award. In: Proc. of 26th Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS). 2019. Full textCitationDetails

    Fuzzing is a well-known technique for automatically testing the robustness of software and its susceptibility to security-critical errors. Recently, many new and improved fuzzers have been presented. One critical aspect of any new fuzzer is its overall performance. However, given that there exist no standardized fuzzing evaluation methodology, we observe significant discrepancy in evaluation results making it highly challenging to  compare fuzzing techniques.

    To tackle this deficiency, we developed a new framework, called FETA, which automatically evaluates fuzzers based on a fixed and comprehensive test set enabling objective and general comparison of performance results. We apply FETA to various recently released academic and non-academic fuzzers, eventually resulting in a large scale evaluation of the current state-of-the-art fuzzing approaches.

  • Eder, Thomas; Rodler, Michael; Vymazal, Dieter; Zeilinger, Markus: ANANAS - A Framework for Analyzing Android Applications. In: Availability, Reliability and Security (ARES), 2013 Eighth International Conference on (2013). doi:10.1109/ARES.2013.93Full textCitationDetails


  • Rodler, Michael: Sereum: Protecting Existing Smart Contracts Against Re-Entrancy Attacks, ACM AFT, 21.10.2019, Zürich. Details
  • Rodler, Michael: Sereum: Protecting Existing Smart Contracts Against Re-Entrancy Attacks, Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS), 27.02.2019, San Diego. Details