Visible to the public Developing Secure SGX Enclaves: New Challenges on the Horizon

TitleDeveloping Secure SGX Enclaves: New Challenges on the Horizon
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsStrackx, Raoul, Piessens, Frank
Conference NameProceedings of the 1st Workshop on System Software for Trusted Execution
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4503-4670-2
Keywordsbuffer overflow, Collaboration, human factors, Intel SGX, low-level vulnerability, Metrics, pubcrawl, Resiliency, safe coding standards

The combination of (1) hard to eradicate low-level vulnerabilities, (2) a large trusted computing base written in a memory-unsafe language and (3) a desperate need to provide strong software security guarantees, led to the development of protected-module architectures. Such architectures provide strong isolation of protected modules: Security of code and data depends only on a module's own implementation. In this paper we discuss how such protected modules should be written. From an academic perspective it is clear that the future lies with memory-safe languages. Unfortunately, from a business and management perspective, that is a risky path and will remain so in the near future. The use of well-known but memory-unsafe languages such as C and C++ seem inevitable. We argue that the academic world should take another look at the automatic hardening of software written in such languages to mitigate low-level security vulnerabilities. This is a well-studied topic for full applications, but protected-module architectures introduce a new, and much more challenging environment. Porting existing security measures to a protected-module setting without a thorough security analysis may even harm security of the protected modules they try to protect.

Citation Keystrackx_developing_2016