When it comes to cloud computing, security is the biggest barrier for adoption by the enterprise customers. “One of the biggest impediments to cloud computing is the change in the trust model from on-premises computing,” Baumann from MSR explains. Baumann and his colleagues came up with a concept called “shielded execution,” which protects the confidentiality and the integrity of a program, as well as the associated data from the platform on which it runs—the cloud operator’s operating system, administrative software, and firmware. This project called Haven is based on MSR’s earlier project Drawbridge. Drawbridge is a research prototype of a new form of virtualization for application sandboxing. Drawbridge combines two core technologies: First, a picoprocess, which is a process-based isolation container with a minimal kernel API surface. Second, a library OS, which is a version of Windows enlightened to run efficiently within a picoprocess.
Today’s cloud computing infrastructure requires substantial trust. Cloud users rely on both the provider’s staff and its globally-distributed software/hardware platform not to expose any of their private data. We introduce the notion of shielded execution, which protects the confidentiality and integrity of a program and its data from the platform on which it runs (i.e., the cloud operator’s OS, VM and firmware). Our prototype, Haven, is the first system to achieve shielded execution of unmodified legacy applications, including SQL Server and Apache, on a commodity OS (Windows) and commodity hardware. Haven leverages the hardware protection of Intel SGX to defend against privileged code and physical attacks such as memory probes, but also addresses the dual challenges of executing unmodified legacy binaries and protecting them from a malicious host. This work motivated recent changes in the SGX specification.
Read more about Haven project here.