PartiSan: Fast and Flexible Sanitization via Run-Time Partitioning

  • Julian LettnerEmail author
  • Dokyung Song
  • Taemin Park
  • Per Larsen
  • Stijn Volckaert
  • Michael Franz
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11050)


Sanitizers can detect security vulnerabilities in C/C++ code that elude static analysis. Current practice is to continuously fuzz and sanitize internal pre-release builds. Sanitization-enabled builds are rarely released publicly. This is in large part due to the high memory and processing requirements of sanitizers.

We present PartiSan, a run-time partitioning technique that speeds up sanitizers and allows them to be used in a more flexible manner. Our core idea is to partition the execution into sanitized slices that incur a run-time overhead, and “unsanitized” slices running at full speed. With PartiSan, sanitization is no longer an all-or-nothing proposition. A single build can be distributed to every user regardless of their willingness to enable sanitization and the capabilities of their host system. PartiSan enables application developers to define their own sanitization policies. Such policies can automatically adjust the amount of sanitization to fit within a performance budget or disable sanitization if the host lacks sufficient resources. The flexibility afforded by run-time partitioning also means that we can alternate between different types of sanitizers dynamically; today, developers have to pick a single type of sanitizer ahead of time. Finally, we show that run-time partitioning can speed up fuzzing by running the sanitized partition only when the fuzzer discovers an input that causes a crash or uncovers new execution paths.


Security Privacy Software security Application security 



We would like to thank Jonas Wagner for his advice and pointing out useful previous work. We also would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback.

This material is based upon work partially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under contracts FA8750-15-C-0124 and FA8750-15-C-0085, by the United States Office of Naval Research (ONR) under contract N00014-17-1-2782, and by the National Science Foundation under awards CNS-1619211 and CNS-1513837.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) or its Contracting Agents, the Office of Naval Research or its Contracting Agents, the National Science Foundation, or any other agency of the U.S. Government.

The authors also gratefully acknowledge a gift from Oracle Corporation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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