Title: Towards Secure High-Performance Computer Architectures
Abstract: Recent work has shown that architectural isolation can be violated through software side channel attacks that exploit microarchitectural performance optimizations such as speculation to leak secrets. While turning off microarchitectural optimizations can preclude some classes of attacks, we argue that performance and security do not have be in conflict, provided processors are designed with security in mind.
We advocate designing processors to support enclaves, which are processes with an associated security policy, and espouse a principled hardware/software co-design approach to eliminating entire attack surfaces relevant to the security policy through microarchitectural isolation, rather than plugging attack-specific privacy leaks. As a case study of this approach, we describe both in-order and speculative processor designs that offer strong provable isolation of software modules running concurrently and sharing resources, even when large parts of the operating system are compromised. Open-source implementations of these processors will allow security properties to be independently verified. Finally, we describe the current limitations of this approach and future opportunities for research.
Bio: Srini Devadas is the Webster Professor of EECS at MIT where he has been on the faculty since 1988. His current research interests are in computer security, computer architecture and applied cryptography. Devadas received the 2015 ACM/IEEE Richard Newton award, the 2017 IEEE W. Wallace McDowell award and the 2018 IEEE Charles A. Desoer award for his research in secure hardware. He is a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE. Devadas is the author of “Programming for the Puzzled” (MIT Press, 2017), a book that builds a bridge between the recreational world of algorithmic puzzles and the pragmatic world of computer programming, teaching readers to program while solving puzzles. He is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, an Everett Moore Baker and a Bose award recipient, considered MIT’s highest teaching honors.