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Galois Tech Talk: Leveraging Emerging Storage Functionality for New Security Services

Galois, Inc
421 SW 6th Ave. Suite 300
Portland, OR 97204, US (map)



Presented by Kevin Butler

The complexity of modern operating systems makes securing them a challenging problem. However, changes in the computing model, such as the rise of cloud computing and smarter peripherals, have presented opportunities to reconsider system architectures, as we move from traditional "stove-pipe" computing to distributed systems. In particular, we can build trustworthy components that act to provide security in complex systems.

This talk discusses how new disk architectures may be exploited to aid the protection of systems by acting as policy decision and enforcement points. We prototype disks that enforce data immutability at the block level on critical system data, preventing malicious code from inserting itself into system configuration and boot files. We then examine how storage may be used to ensure the integrity state of hosts prior to allowing access to data, and how such a design improves the security of portable storage devices. Using continual measurements of system state, we show through formal reasoning that such a device enforces guarantees that data is read and written while the host is in a good state. Finally, we discuss some recent initiatives to assure the identity of the host and identify future directions for exploring the interface between storage and operating system security.