Visible to the public KU SoS Lablet Quarterly Executive Summary - 2022 Q4Conflict Detection Enabled

A. Fundamental Research

The University of Kansas Lablet continued work on four projects targeting resiliency, preventing side channel communication, developing semantics and infrastructure for trust, and secure native binary execution. Specifically, we are: (i) reducing micro-architectural side-channels by introducing new OS abstractions while minimally modifying micro-architecture and OS; (ii) developing an epistemology and ontology for framing resilience; (iii) formalizing the remote attestation and defining sufficiency and soundness; and (iv) developing a framework for client-side security assessment and enforcement for COTS software.

Highlights from this quarter include:

  • Dr. Heechul Yun and his team continued developing a secure memory allocator for the Linux kernel that is designed to defend against potential rowhammer attacks. We reproduced the rowhammer based kernel priviledge escalation attacks and in the process of validating a simple OS-level defense mechanism. We have encountered some issues in validating our mechanism that they will to resolve soon.  They submitted the paper "Cache Bank-Aware Denial-of-Service Attacks on Multicore ARM Processors."

  • Dr. Prasad Kulkarni and his team continued work to develop tools and techniques to evaluate the client-side security properties of binary software and understand the efficiency, effectiveness, challenges and tradeoffs in implementing binary analysis and security mechanisms at the binary-level, as compared to source-level techniques.  They presented a paper describing techniques, results, and observations regarding the detection of compiler-added security checks in binaries in Springer's ISPEC 2022 conference.  They built and demonstrated a framework to assess the inference accuracy of binary decompilers with a paper accepted for publication at the ICISSP 2023 conference.

  • Dr. Perry Alexander and his team continued modeling protocol negotiation including attestation system manifests, and successfully formalized protocol soundness and sufficiency.  Anna Fritz successfully submitted student paper to the FM'23 doctoral symposium.  "A Formal Architecture for Trustworthy Remote Attestation" is in preparation for submission to FormalISE'23 as well as an abstract for HCSS'23. Working with other Lablet PIs they are supporting C3E in October and an FBI/KU working conference in January.

B. Community Engagement(s)

The Institute for Information Sciences (I2S) at The University of Kansas is hiring four faculty members and two postdoc researchers as a part of our Research Rising award from the Vice Chancellor of Research.  All targeting various aspects of cybersecurity.  The new Center for Cybersocial Dynamics is now up and running with John Symons, KU SoS PI, as director.  The new Center focuses on interactions between computing systems and social institutions and is hiring a faculty member researching disinformation and two postdocs to support the Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies(CREES) Other traditional security researchers are being hired to support the High Assurance and Secure System Center where the majority of our SoS researchers work.

The Kansas Lablet hosted the Computational Cybersecurity in Compromised Environments (C3E) symposium October 17-19 on the KU campus.  Topics centered on artificial intelligence/machine learning in operations involving critical systems across ubiquitous domain.  Dr. Perry Alexander will be delivered an invited presentation on Attestation and Time.

The C3E symposium was be followed by a one day series of presentations covering security research at KU including our Lablet projects and the initial demonstration of our attestation testbed.  This one-day workshop was attended by NSA Lablet and DARPA leadership as well as our KCNCS sponsors.

The Kansas Lablet will be co-hosting the KU/ FBI Cybersecurity Conference on January 27, 2023.  This conference focuses on workforce development and will feature speakers from our Lablet projects, FBI Associate Director, and our industry advisory board.  Dr. Perry Alexander will serve as event host.

KU continues is Lambda Circle reading group for students and faculty interested in languages and security issues.  Recent topics include dependent type systems, an ACL2 introduction, and the Coq ssreflect system.  Presentations and discussions are open to all.

KU Lablet PIs continue work with MITRE, JHUAPL, and NSA to develop remote attestation approaches. Joint work from this effort is available on the Copland website including the Copland Collection of utilities and tools, Copland formal semantics, and attestation manager implementations.

C. Educational Advances