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9th Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HotOS IX) — Abstract

Certifying Program Execution with Secure Processors

Benjie Chen and Robert Morris, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science


Cerium is a trusted computing architecture that protects a program's execution from being tampered while the program is running. Cerium uses a physically tamper-resistant CPU and a µ-kernel to protect programs from each other and from hardware attacks. The µ-kernel partitions programs into separate address spaces, and the CPU applies memory protection to ensure that programs can only use their own data; the CPU traps to the µ-kernel when loading or evicting a cache line, and the µ-kernel cryptographically authenticates and copy-protects each program's instructions and data when they are stored in the untrusted off-chip DRAM. The Cerium CPU signs certificates that securely identify the CPU and its manufacturer, the BIOS and boot loader, the µ-kernel, the running program, and any data the program wants signed. These certificates tell a user what program executed and what hardware and software environment surrounded the program, which are key facts in deciding whether to trust a program's output.
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Last changed: 24 July 2003 aw
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