Secured Routines: Language-based Construction of Trusted Execution Environments


Adrien Ghosn, James R. Larus, and Edouard Bugnion, EPFL


Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), such as Intel SGX’s enclave, use hardware to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of operations on sensitive data. While the technology is widely available, the complexity of its programming model and its performance overhead have limited adoption. TEEs provide a new and valuable hardware functionality that has no obvious analogue in programming languages, which means that developers must manually partition their application into trusted and untrusted components.

This paper describes an approach that fully integrates trusted execution in a language-appropriate manner. We extend the Go language to allow a programmer to execute a goroutine within an enclave, to use low-overhead channels to communicate between the trusted and untrusted environments, and to rely on a compiler to automatically extract the secure code and data. Our prototype compiler and runtime, GOTEE , is a backward-compatible fork of the Go compiler.

The evaluation shows that our compiler-driven code and data partitioning efficiently executes both microbenchmarks and applications. On the former, GOTEE achieves a 5.2x throughput, and a 2.3x latency improvement over the Intel SGX SDK. Our case studies, the Go tls package and a secured keystore inspired by the go-ethereum project, show that minor source-code modifications suffice to provide confidentiality and integrity guarantees with only moderate performance overheads.

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@inproceedings {234894,
author = {Adrien Ghosn and James R. Larus and Edouard Bugnion},
title = {Secured Routines: Language-based Construction of Trusted Execution Environments},
booktitle = {2019 USENIX Annual Technical Conference (USENIX ATC 19)},
year = {2019},
isbn = {978-1-939133-03-8},
address = {Renton, WA},
pages = {571--586},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul

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