Visible to the public Trust Extension As a Mechanism for Secure Code Execution on Commodity Computers

TitleTrust Extension As a Mechanism for Secure Code Execution on Commodity Computers
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsParno, Bryan Jeffery
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery and Morgan &\#38; Claypool
CityNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-62705-477-5

From the Preface

As society rushes to digitize sensitive information and services, it is imperative that we adopt adequate security protections. However, such protections fundamentally conflict with the benefits we expect from commodity computers. In other words, consumers and businesses value commodity computers because they provide good performance and an abundance of features at relatively low costs. Meanwhile, attempts to build secure systems from the ground up typically abandon such goals, and hence are seldom adopted [Karger et al. 1991, Gold et al. 1984, Ames 1981].

In this book, a revised version of my doctoral dissertation, originally written while studying at Carnegie Mellon University, I argue that we can resolve the tension between security and features by leveraging the trust a user has in one device to enable her to securely use another commodity device or service, without sacrificing the performance and features expected of commodity systems.We support this premise over the course of the following chapters.

Introduction. This chapter introduces the notion of bootstrapping trust from one device or service to another and gives an overview of how the subsequent chapters fit together.
Background and related work. This chapter focuses on existing techniques for bootstrapping trust in commodity computers, specifically by conveying information about a computer's current execution environment to an interested party. This would, for example, enable a user to verify that her computer is free of malware, or that a remote web server will handle her data responsibly.
Bootstrapping trust in a commodity computer. At a high level, this chapter develops techniques to allow a user to employ a small, trusted, portable device to securely learn what code is executing on her local computer. While the problem is simply stated, finding a solution that is both secure and usable with existing hardware proves quite difficult.
On-demand secure code execution. Rather than entrusting a user's data to the mountain of buggy code likely running on her computer, in this chapter, we construct an on-demand secure execution environment which can perform security sensitive tasks and handle private data in complete isolation from all other software (and most hardware) on the system. Meanwhile, non-security-sensitive software retains the same abundance of features and performance it enjoys today.
Using trustworthy host data in the network. Having established an environment for secure code execution on an individual computer, this chapter shows how to extend trust in this environment to network elements in a secure and efficient manner. This allows us to reexamine the design of network protocols and defenses, since we can now execute code on end hosts and trust the results within the network.
Secure code execution on untrusted hardware. Lastly, this chapter extends the user's trust one more step to encompass computations performed on a remote host (e.g., in the cloud).We design, analyze, and prove secure a protocol that allows a user to outsource arbitrary computations to commodity computers run by an untrusted remote party (or parties) who may subject the computers to both software and hardware attacks. Our protocol guarantees that the user can both verify that the results returned are indeed the correct results of the specified computations on the inputs provided, and protect the secrecy of both the inputs and outputs of the computations. These guarantees are provided in a non-interactive, asymptotically optimal (with respect to CPU and bandwidth) manner.

Thus, extending a user's trust, via software, hardware, and cryptographic techniques, allows us to provide strong security protections for both local and remote computations on sensitive data, while still preserving the performance and features of commodity computers.

Citation KeyParno:2014:TEM:2611399