Secure Virtual Machine Execution under an Untrusted Management OS
2010 IEEE 3rd International Conference on Cloud Computing
Virtualization is a rapidly evolving technology that can be used to provide a range of benefits to computing systems, including improved resource utilization, software portability, and reliability. For security-critical applications, it is highly desirable to have a small trusted computing base (TCB), since it minimizes the surface of attacks that could jeopardize the security of the entire system. In traditional virtualization architectures, the TCB for an application includes not only the
... ware and the virtual machine monitor (VMM), but also the whole management operating system (OS) that contains the device drivers and virtual machine (VM) management functionality. For many applications, it is not acceptable to trust this management OS, due to its large code base and abundance of vulnerabilities. In this paper, we address the problem of providing a secure execution environment on a virtualized computing platform under the assumption of an untrusted management OS. We propose a secure virtualization architecture that provides a secure run-time environment, network interface, and secondary storage for a guest VM. The proposed architecture significantly reduces the TCB of security-critical guest VMs, leading to improved security in an untrusted management environment. We have implemented a prototype of the proposed approach using the Xen virtualization system, and demonstrated how it can be used to facilitate secure remote computing services. We evaluate the performance penalties incurred by the proposed architecture, and demonstrate that the penalties are minimal.