Visible to the public In-nimbo Sandboxing

TitleIn-nimbo Sandboxing
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMaass, Michael, Scherlis, William L., Aldrich, Jonathan
Conference NameProceedings of the 2014 Symposium and Bootcamp on the Science of Security
Conference LocationRaleigh, NC, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4503-2907-1
KeywordsA Language and Framework for Development of Secure Mobile Applications, ACM CCS, Foundations, science of security, Security Reasoning for Distributed Systems with Uncertainty, Systems Security, Vulnerability Management

Sandboxes impose a security policy, isolating applications and their components from the rest of a system. While many sandboxing techniques exist, state of the art sandboxes generally perform their functions within the system that is being defended. As a result, when the sandbox fails or is bypassed, the security of the surrounding system can no longer be assured. We experiment with the idea of in-nimbo sandboxing, encapsulating untrusted computations away from the system we are trying to protect. The idea is to delegate computations that may be vulnerable or malicious to virtual machine instances in a cloud computing environment. This may not reduce the possibility of an in-situ sandbox compromise, but it could significantly reduce the consequences should that possibility be realized. To achieve this advantage, there are additional requirements, including: (1) A regulated channel between the local and cloud environments that supports interaction with the encapsulated application, (2) Performance design that acceptably minimizes latencies in excess of the in-situ baseline. To test the feasibility of the idea, we built an in-nimbo sandbox for Adobe Reader, an application that historically has been subject to significant attacks. We undertook a prototype deployment with PDF users in a large aerospace firm. In addition to thwarting several examples of existing PDF-based malware, we found that the added increment of latency, perhaps surprisingly, does not overly impair the user experience with respect to performance or usability.

Citation KeyMaass:2014:IS:2600176.2600177