Hometown: New Delhi, Delhi, India
Graduation date: Spring 2026
FURI | Fall 2023
Dissecting Google’s AddressSanitizer (ASAN)
AddressSanitizer (ASAN) is a widely used memory error detector, but it can cause time and memory overhead. The objective of this research is to understand ASAN better and to find solutions to make it more efficient. The research team has identified how shadow memory works and is currently working to identify the components of the ASAN algorithm that are causing the time and memory overhead. Once these components are identified, the team will explore opportunities for optimization. This research has the potential to make ASAN more efficient, which would make it more widely adopted and would help to improve the reliability and security of software.
Mentor: Yan Shoshitaishvili
Featured project | Fall 2023
Computer science sophomore Vishal Juneja was drawn to working with the Laboratory of Security Engineering for Future Computing, known as SEFCOM, by his strong interest in cybersecurity and participation in Capture the Flag competitions in which teams compete to solve computer security challenges. As part of FURI, Juneja is working with Yan Shoshitaishvili, an associate professor of computer science, to improve a Google error-detecting tool called AddressSanitizer, or ASAN, to help make software more reliable and secure.
What made you want to get involved in FURI? Why did you choose the project you’re working on?
I got involved in Professor Yan’s research because I was inspired by his enthusiasm for security and his vast knowledge in the field. After attending his educational security program, pwn.college, I realized that I wanted to do research under his supervision. He motivated me to pursue research, and I am grateful for his guidance.
I chose to research ASAN because it is a widely used tool in the security industry, especially with fuzzers. Fuzzers are automated software tools that help security engineers find vulnerabilities in software by testing it with different input parameters. By understanding how ASAN works, I can help other security engineers use it more effectively to find vulnerabilities. I am also working to make ASAN more efficient by identifying and optimizing its components that can cause memory and time overhead costs.
How will your engineering research project impact the world?
My project has the potential to make a significant impact on the world by making software more secure, reliable and robust. By understanding how ASAN works, we can develop better ways to use it to find and fix security vulnerabilities in software. This could help to reduce the number of cyberattacks, which could save billions of dollars each year and improve safety and security for individuals and businesses around the world. By identifying and optimizing the components of ASAN that cause memory and time overhead costs, we can make ASAN more efficient and easier to use. This could encourage more developers to use ASAN to test their software for security vulnerabilities, leading to more secure software being released into the wild. Moreover, my research could help to develop new tools and techniques for detecting and fixing memory errors. This could make software more reliable and robust, reducing the number of crashes and other software failures that can waste time and money for businesses and individuals.
How do you see this experience helping with your career or advanced degree goals?
ASAN is a well-known tool developed by Google. This research opportunity is invaluable to me, as it allows me to improve my skills in the field of security and formally conduct research under the skilled and knowledgeable supervision of Professor Yan.
Additionally, this research is helping me to achieve my future career goals by giving me a chance to understand ASAN in-depth. I believe that hacking is the art of understanding something so well that you can modify its behavior in ways that were not originally intended. This research project is helping me to develop this skill by allowing me to dissect ASAN and learn how it works. I am also planning to propose changes in the future that will improve the efficiency of this software.
Why should other students get involved in FURI?
The Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative is highly recommended for students who want to do research and genuinely want to learn something. You can formally conduct research on a topic that you are interested in and share it with the world. It is an amazing opportunity for students who want to go outside of their comfort zone, learn on their own and make something new to benefit society. FURI can also help students to develop their skills in critical thinking, problem-solving and communication. These skills are highly valued by employers and graduate schools, so participating in FURI can give students a significant advantage in their future careers.