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Next: Acknowledgments Up: vTPM: Virtualizing the Trusted Previous: Related Work


We have designed and implemented a system that provides trusted computing functionality to every virtual machine on a virtualized hardware platform. We virtualized the Trusted Platform Module by extending the standard TPM command set to support vTPM lifecycle management and enable trust establishment in the virtualized environment. We added support for secure vTPM migration while maintaining a strong association between a vTPM instance and its associated VM.

We uncovered the most important difficulties that arise when virtualizing the TPM. Whereas usually virtualization of hardware devices can be achieved through software emulation, we have demonstrated that this is not sufficient in the case of the TPM. Certificates that may exist for hardware TPMs and vouch for strong security properties need to be issued for virtual TPM instances' endorsement keys . These certificates can naturally not represent the same properties for a virtual TPM process running in user space. Trust chains that are usually owned by a single OS now pass through a hierarchy of virtual machines. Virtual TPM migration can create further problems if certificate chains that have been established break or trust must be reestablished.

We virtualized the Trusted Platform Module by making all low-level TPM 1.2 commands available to every virtual machine. Applications that don't handle certificates related to TPM-generated keys or do not deal with the concept of trust can remain unchanged. Applications challenging a virtual machine or those following certificate chains, like for example a privacy CA, must be aware of the modifications that were necessary for the virtualized environment. Those modifications include certificate chains that consist of different types of certificates issued through special signing mechanisms of the virtual TPM, or certificates provided by the manufacturer of the device or those issued through a certificate authority such as a privacy CA. Applications that have been adapted to work in the virtualized environment will be backwards compatible with platforms using a singleton hardware TPM.

Our proposed architecture for virtualizing the TPM is a major building block for establishing trust in virtualized environments. For example, Trusted Virtual Data Centers [16] create distributed virtual domains offering strong enterprise-level security guarantees in hosted data center environments. In such an environment, virtual TPMs help to establish trust in strong domain security guarantees through their remote attestation and sealing capabilities.

next up previous
Next: Acknowledgments Up: vTPM: Virtualizing the Trusted Previous: Related Work
root 2006-05-12