Hector Marco, PhD

Lecturer and Cyber Security researcher

My name is Hector Marco-Gisbert, I received the Ph.D. degree in computer science, CyberSecurity in 2015 at UPV university. Initially, I participated in several research projects where the main goal was to develop an hypervisor for the next generation of space crafts for the ESA (European Space Agency). I contributed to extend the scope of the projects to include security aspects using the MILS (Multiple Independent Levels of Security/Safety) architecture.

Currently, I am a lecturer in Cyber Security and Virtualisation at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). My research aims to identify and thwart critical security threats focusing on servers and smartphone platforms. His interests includes study and design new low level attacks and protection mechanisms.

I revisited mature and well known techniques, as SSP (Stack Smashing Protection) and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), and I was able to make substantial contributions like RenewSSP and ASLR-NG.

I also received awards and recognitions from Google and Packet Storm Security for my security contributions to the Linux kernel.


2015 PhD in Computer Science, Cyber Security UPV
2010 Master's degree, Industrial Computing and Control Systems UPV
2009 Bachelor of Science in Computer Science UPV


Title :   Cyber-security protection techniques to mitigate memory errors exploitation
Advisor :   Prof. Ismael Ripoll Ripoll

My thesis proposes practical and effective protection techniques that have been tested in real systems. I have developed RenewSSP, a modified SSP which prevents brute force attacks against the SSP on forking servers. Also I have showed multiple weaknesses regarding current SSP design in Android, which enabled me to design a new SSP named SSPMD. My proposal addresses all security issues caused by the Android architecture.

Regarding the ASLR, I have questioned the classic memory process memory model, and a new memory layout model has been proposed, which in turn allowed me to redesign the existing ASLR technique. ASLR Next Generation (ASLR-NG) is optimal in the sense that it provides maximum entropy for the memory layout that the MMU supports and includes a novel solution to solve fragmentation.

Professional background

2016 - present Lecturer and Cyber-Security researcher at UWS, Scotland
2009 - 2016 Cyber-Security Researcher at UPV, Spain
2014 - 2014 Researcher visitor at Czech Technical University at CVUT, Prague
2007 - 2009 Researcher fellow at UPV, Spain

Honors and awards

Date Rewarded by Description
Jul. 2016 IBM Corp. ASLR for Linux S390
Mar. 2016 Google Inc. ASLR improvement - Unlimiting the stack not longer disables ASLR
Sep. 2015 Google Inc. ASLR improvement - Fix of the offset2lib weakness
Aug. 2015 Google Inc. ASLR x86_64 improvement - Stack randomization
Jul. 2015 Google Inc. AMD Bulldozer ASLR improvement - Per boot randomization
Apr. 2014 Packet Storm Security Offset2lib: Bypassing Full ASLR On 64bit Linux


Title :   Renew Stack Smashing Protector (RenewSSP)
Inventors :   Hector Marco & Ismael Ripoll
Date :   August 2013
Status :   Patentability analysis


Abusing LUKS to Hack the System [+info]
Héctor Marco and Ismael Ripoll.
In-depth security conference 2016 europe, (DEEPSEC 2016).

Exploiting Linux and PaX ASLR's Weaknesses on 32-bit and 64-bit Systems [HTML]
Héctor Marco and Ismael Ripoll.
Black Hat Asia 2016, March-April 2016.

Bypassing Trusted Code: Hacking GRUB [HTML]
Héctor Marco and Ismael Ripoll.
IX Jornadas STIC CCN-CERT, November 2015.

On the Effectiveness of Full-ASLR on 64-bit Linux [+info]
Héctor Marco and Ismael Ripoll.
In-depth security conference 2014 europe, (DEEPSEC 2014).

On the effectiveness of NX, SSP, RenewSSP and ASLR against stack buffer overflows [PDF]
Héctor Marco and Ismael Ripoll.
The 13th IEEE International Symposium on Network Computing and Applications (IEEE NCA14)

Preventing Memory Error Exploitation Through Emulation-based Processor Diversification [Book]
Héctor Marco, Ismael Ripoll, Juan-Carlos Ruiz and David De Andrés.
Emerging Trends in ICT Security, 1st Edition (ICT 2013)

Preventing brute force attacks against stack canary protection on networking servers [PDF]
Héctor Marco and Ismael Ripoll.
The 12th IEEE International Symposium on Network Computing and Applications (IEEE NCA13)

Preventing Memory Errors in Networked Vehicle Services Through Diversification [PDF]
Héctor Marco, Juan-Carlos Ruiz, David De Andrés and Ismael Ripoll.
Proceedings of Workshop CARS (2nd Workshop on Critical Automotive applications: Robustness & Safety) of the 32nd International Conference on Computer Safety, Reliability and Security. (Safecomp 2013)

Teaching experience


Title: SSP and ASLR memory protection techniques: design and implementation issues
Place: Master in Computer Science, UPV University, Valencia, Spain
October 2015
Title: Contributing to open source software security
Place: Master in Computer Science, UPV University, Valencia, Spain
November 2015

Bachelor projects

Title: Buscador de Gadgets ROP per a la construcció de payloads per a ARM
Author: Fernando Vaño García
July 2015
Director Experimental
Title: Design and implementation of the plugin framework for an advanced game engine architecture
Author: Vicente Eduardo Ferrer García
July 2015
Director Experimental
Title: Arquitectura N-modular-redundante para aplicaciones software: Evaluación/Validación de la arquitectura
Author: Jordi Juliá Benlloch
Date:July 2014
Title: Arquitectura N-modular-redundante para aplicaciones software: Implementación de Votador/Monitor
Author: Pau Sastre Miguel
Date:July 2014

Code Vulnerability Analysis

Published CVE's

Date CVE # Product Description Vulnerability type
2015 CVE (pending) Android To be disclosed To be disclosed
2016 CVE-2016-4484 cryptsetup <= 2:1.7.3-2 Initrd root Shell Not failing securely
2016 CVE-2016-3672 Linux <= 4.5 Disable ASLR ASLR Weakness
2015 CVE-2015-8370 Grub2 <= 2.02 Authentication Bypass Integer Underflow
2015 CVE (pending) Glibc <= 2.22.90 Bypass Pointer guard Dynamic loader weakness
2015 CVE (pending) Linux ASLR <= 4.0 AMD Linux ASLR weakness Improper alignment
2015 CVE (pending) Linux ASLR <= 3.18 Reduced mmap entropy Improper mask manipulation
2015 CVE-2015-1593 Linux ASLR <= 3.19 Reduced stack entropy Integer overflow
2015 CVE-2015-1574 Google Email 4.2.2 Denial of Service Incorrect headers handling
2014 CVE-2014-5439 sniffit <= 0.3.7 Root shell Stack buffer overflow
2014 CVE-2013-6825 DCMTK <= 3.6.1 Root Privilege escalation Drop privileges failed
2014 CVE-2014-1226 s3dvt <= 0.2.2 Root shell (II) Drop privileges failed
2013 CVE-2013-6876 s3dvt <= 0.2.2 Root shell (I) Drop privileges failed
2013 CVE-2013-4788 Glibc <= 2.17 Bypass pointer guard No pointer protection

Published Attacks

Date Attack Name Description Platform
2014 Offset2lib Bypass 64-bit ASLR in < 1 second 32/64-bit Linux
To be pub. Jmp2non-ssp Bypass the SSP 32/64-bit Linux
To be pub. CRTµROP Bypass the ASLR 32/64-bit Linux

Published exploits

Date Vendor Description Platform Download
2015 Glibc <= 2.22.90 Bypass Pointer Mangle protection. Linux [PoC]
2015 Email Android 4.2 Remote Denial of service in Android Email app. Android [exploit]
2014 Linux <= 3.18 Offset2lib: Bypass 64-bit ASLR in < 1 second Linux [exploit]
2014 Sniffit <= 0.3.7 Sniffit Stack buffer overflow - root shell Linux [exploit]
2013 Glibc <= 2.17 Glibc PTR Mangle encryption useless - PoC Linux [PoC]

Published Protection techniques

Date Name Description Attack mitigated
To be pub. ASLR-NG Address Space Layout Next Generation Offset2lib attack
2013 RenewSSP A modification of the Stack Smashing Protector SSP brute force attacks

Other Vulnerabilities

Date Vendor Description Vulnerability type
2014 Bash <= 4.3 Root shell Bash drop privileges failed
2014 Bash <= 4.3 Crash Bash improper input handling
2014 Irssi <= 8.16 Root shell Irssi drop privileges failed
to be pub. Konica printer To be pub. To be pub.

Projects with active participation (most relevant)

2012 - 2015 High Integrity Partitioned Embedded Systems UPV
2010 - 2012 System Impact of Distributed Multicore systems (EADS) UPV
2009 - 2011 Securization of embedded systems UPV
2008 - 2009 TECOM: Trusted Embedded Computing UPV
2008 - 2009 Securization of distributed embedded systems UPV

Other research activities

Date Journal/Conference Activity Website
2015 JNIC Committee member JNIC 2015
2014 ETACMOS Collaborating as a journal reviewer ETACMOS 2014
2014 20th IEEE RTAS Collaborating as a journal reviewer RTAS 2014
2012 6th LADC Collaborating as a paper reviewer LADC 2013

Past personal projects

Title: NEXX: an hypervisor for ARM
Description: A tiny (and incomplete) ARM hypervisor which enables you to run both bare and Linux partitions. I developed NEXX to learn operating systems internals and hardware programming.
Title: STP: A Secure Trusted Partition
Description: Research prototype to merge TPM (Trusted Platform Modules) concepts into a MILS (Multiple Interdependent Levels of Security/Safety) in a partitioned architecture implemented by means of hypervisor technology.