Visible to the public Biblio

Filters: Author is Watson, Robert N. M.  [Clear All Filters]
Conference Paper
Dodson, Michael, Beresford, Alastair R., Richardson, Alexander, Clarke, Jessica, Watson, Robert N. M..  2020.  CHERI Macaroons: Efficient, host-based access control for cyber-physical systems. 2020 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS PW). :688–693.
Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) often rely on network boundary defence as a primary means of access control; therefore, the compromise of one device threatens the security of all devices within the boundary. Resource and real-time constraints, tight hardware/software coupling, and decades-long service lifetimes complicate efforts for more robust, host-based access control mechanisms. Distributed capability systems provide opportunities for restoring access control to resource-owning devices; however, such a protection model requires a capability-based architecture for CPS devices as well as task compartmentalisation to be effective.This paper demonstrates hardware enforcement of network bearer tokens using an efficient translation between CHERI (Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions) architectural capabilities and Macaroon network tokens. While this method appears to generalise to any network-based access control problem, we specifically consider CPS, as our method is well-suited for controlling resources in the physical domain. We demonstrate the method in a distributed robotics application and in a hierarchical industrial control application, and discuss our plans to evaluate and extend the method.
Nienhuis, Kyndylan, Joannou, Alexandre, Bauereiss, Thomas, Fox, Anthony, Roe, Michael, Campbell, Brian, Naylor, Matthew, Norton, Robert M., Moore, Simon W., Neumann, Peter G. et al..  2020.  Rigorous engineering for hardware security: Formal modelling and proof in the CHERI design and implementation process. 2020 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (SP). :1003—1020.

The root causes of many security vulnerabilities include a pernicious combination of two problems, often regarded as inescapable aspects of computing. First, the protection mechanisms provided by the mainstream processor architecture and C/C++ language abstractions, dating back to the 1970s and before, provide only coarse-grain virtual-memory-based protection. Second, mainstream system engineering relies almost exclusively on test-and-debug methods, with (at best) prose specifications. These methods have historically sufficed commercially for much of the computer industry, but they fail to prevent large numbers of exploitable bugs, and the security problems that this causes are becoming ever more acute.In this paper we show how more rigorous engineering methods can be applied to the development of a new security-enhanced processor architecture, with its accompanying hardware implementation and software stack. We use formal models of the complete instruction-set architecture (ISA) at the heart of the design and engineering process, both in lightweight ways that support and improve normal engineering practice - as documentation, in emulators used as a test oracle for hardware and for running software, and for test generation - and for formal verification. We formalise key intended security properties of the design, and establish that these hold with mechanised proof. This is for the same complete ISA models (complete enough to boot operating systems), without idealisation.We do this for CHERI, an architecture with hardware capabilities that supports fine-grained memory protection and scalable secure compartmentalisation, while offering a smooth adoption path for existing software. CHERI is a maturing research architecture, developed since 2010, with work now underway on an Arm industrial prototype to explore its possible adoption in mass-market commercial processors. The rigorous engineering work described here has been an integral part of its development to date, enabling more rapid and confident experimentation, and boosting confidence in the design.