TCE Guest Lecture: Deterministically Deterring Timing Attacks in Deterland

Prof. Bryan Ford (Yale University)
Tuesday, 12.5.2015, 12:00
EE Meyer Building 815

The massive parallelism and resource sharing embodying today’s cloud business model not only exacerbate the security challenge of timing channels, but also undermine the viability of defenses based on resource partitioning. This paper proposes hypervisor-enforced timing mitigation to control timing channels in cloud environments. This approach closes “reference clocks” internal to the cloud by imposing a deterministic view of time on guest code, and uses timing mitigators to pace I/O and rate-limit potential information leakage to external observers. Our prototype hypervisor implementation is the first system that can mitigate timing-channel leakage across full-scale existing operating systems such as Linux and applications written in arbitrary languages. Mitigation incurs a varying performance cost, depending on workload and tunable leakage-limiting parameters, but this cost may be justified for security-critical cloud applications and data.

Bryan Ford currently leads the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DeDiS) research group at Yale University, but will be moving to EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland in July 2015. Ford's work focuses broadly on building secure systems, touching on many particular topics including secure and certified OS kernels, parallel and distributed computing, privacy-preserving technologies, and Internet architecture. He has received the Jay Lepreau Best Paper Award at OSDI, and multiple grants from NSF, DARPA, and ONR, including the NSF CAREER award. His pedagogical achievements include PIOS, the first OS course framework leading students through development of a working, native multiprocessor OS kernel. Prof. Ford earned his B.S. at the University of Utah and his Ph.D. at MIT, while researching topics including mobile device naming and routing, virtualization, microkernel architectures, and touching on programming languages and formal methods.

Back to the index of events