During my M.S. degree at Virginia Tech, I worked with Dr. Godmar Back to create Gurthang, a fuzzing framework capable of fuzzing web servers. Designing, implementing, and evaluating Gurthang comprised my thesis, which I officially completed in June 2022. I successfully defended Gurthang to my advisor committee on May 5th, 2022. My thesis has been archived electronically and can be found at this link. (local mirror)

What does it do?

Gurthang hooks into AFL++ and the target web server with our custom mutator module and LD_PRELOAD library. Gurthang can create multiple concurrent connections to the web server and send different test cases across those connections in a single iteration of the fuzzer. It can mutate both the data sent to the web server and the manner in which that data is delivered. We accomplished this without having to modify AFL++ or the target web server's code at all.

When designing Gurthang, we wanted to create something that could fuzz a web server by sending multiple test cases across multiple concurrent connections in a single iteration of AFL++. Part of my design was the Comux file format (short for connection multiplexing). Each of these files are organized to specify:

With all of this information specified in a single comux file, we can not only fuzz what is being sent to the web server, but also how it's being sent to the web server. This means Gurthang can fuzz for bugs in the web server's concurrency model and its ability to handle unpredictability in connection ordering and parsing message boundaries.

Does it work?

Yes it does! Thanks to the awesome students enrolled in Virginia Tech's CS 3214 - Computer Systems course in the fall 2021 semester, Gurthang found a number of bugs across web servers these students implemented as part of their project work. I also spent time evaluating Gurthang further by fuzzing the Apache and Nginx HTTP web servers. Turns out, it was capable of fuzzing both Apache and Nginx without having to modify a single line of their source code. Past approaches have required this, so I consider this a win for my research.

Can I use it?

Absolutely. My implementation is open-sourced on GitHub. Give it a shot!

Where did the name come from?

So glad you asked. Gurthang comes from J.R.R. Tolkien's world of Arda, during the First Age of Middle Earth. It was a great sword forged from a meteorite and could cut through iron. It passed through a number of owners until, through tragedy, it came into the hands of Túrin Turambar. He wielded Gurthang and became known as Mormegil, The Black Sword of Nargothrond. Túrin slew Glaurang the dragon, a dark creation of Morgoth, only to later throw himself on the blade in suicide. It is said Túrin will return in the Dagor Dagorath to deal Morgoth a fatal blow. Read more about it here!