Guided Feature Identification and Removal for Resource-constrained Firmware
IoT firmware oftentimes incorporates third-party components, such as network-oriented middleware and media encoders/decoders. These components consist of large and mature codebases, shipping with a variety of non-critical features. Feature bloat increases code size, complicates auditing/debugging, and reduces stability. This is problematic for IoT devices, which are severely resource-constrained and must remain operational in the field for years. Unfortunately, identification and complete removal of code related to unwanted features requires familiarity with codebases of interest, cumbersome manual effort, and may introduce bugs. We address these difficulties by introducing PRAT, a system that takes as input the codebase of software of interest, identifies and maps features to code, presents this information to a human analyst, and removes all code belonging to unwanted features. PRAT solves the challenge of identifying feature-related code through a novel form of differential dynamic analysis and visualizes results as user-friendly feature graphs . Evaluation on diverse codebases shows superior code removal compared to both manual feature deactivation and state-of-art debloating tools, and generality across programming languages. Furthermore, a user study comparing PRAT to manual code analysis shows that it can significantly simplify the feature identification workflow.