On the last Virtualization Security podcast, our guest was Robert Rounsavall, CEO of Trapezoid. Trapezoid is looking into how to alleviate supply chain security issues; in essence, the security of the hardware. At many a presentation, I have asked attendees, “Do you trust the hardware?” Many times the answer is that they do; at other times, it is that they do not. Whether you trust the hardware depends entirely on your thoughts with respect to hardware security. But what can you do about hardware security? What is the worst that can happen if the hardware is infiltrated?
Articles Tagged with TXT
On the 4/7/2011 Virtualization Security Podcast, we were joined by Wyatt Starnes of Harris Corporation. Wyatt is the Vice President of Advanced Concepts of Cyber Integrated Solutions at Harris. What this means, is that Wyatt is one of the key folks of the Harris Trusted Cloud initiative. Trust is a funny word, and we have written about that in the past.
Harris’ approach is unique in that they are attempting to ensure integrity of all components of the cloud down to the code level, not just the network with their target being the hosted private cloud and NOT the secure multi-tenant public cloud.
Granted their approach could be used for a Secure Multi-Tenant Public Cloud, and I feel will be required for such a cloud to exist. So what is their approach? It all starts with a company Harris bought a while back: SignaCert which is a different approach to what Tripwire does today (as Wyatt Starnes was an original founder of Tripwire). SignaCert has an ever growing database of software signatures. The software signature gathering component and process becomes part of the supply chain for all components into the Harris Trusted Cloud. These components include signatures for routers, switches, operating systems, and applications which are generated as close to the software release process as possible.
On the third Virtualization Security Podcast of 2011 we were joined by Charlton Barreto of Intel to further discuss the possibility of using TPM/TXT to enhance security within the virtual and cloud environments. We are not there yet, but we discussed in depth the issues with bringing hardware based integrity and confidentiality up further into the virtualized layers of the cloud. TPM and TXT currently provide the following per host security:
Encryption is important, encryption within a VM even more important. But the question is how to do this securely without allowing the encryption keys to be seen by an administrator of the virtual environment and that supports vMotion or LiveMigration. The solution is per VM encrypted memory, but something that makes use of hardware, out of band key exchange, and supports vMotion or LiveMigration. This may be a tall order but I believe it is necessary to fully realize Secure Multi-Tenancy.
Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) is all about protecting the data from all who do not have access to manipulate or view such data. Current SMT thoughts are in the direction of Integrity and Confidentiality as Availability is well understood. To do this, I have suggested that we need to have better encryption or digital signatures available to the VM, and generally this implies hardware encryption via some device like TPM/TXT/HSM, etc. The reason for this is:
During the Virtualization Security Podcast on 6/22, Steve Orrin of Intel and Dennis Morreau of RSA joined us to discuss the impact of Intel Westmere chips built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) on Cloud and Virtualization Security. TPM is not all that new, but TXT’s usage in virtualization security is new. Both together can form a hardware root of trust for the virtual environment.
At the moment however, these technologies are limited to just providing a secure launch of a well known hypervisor within the hardware. As such they have not been extended to the virtual machine. TXT however solves a very important issue that at the time the book VMware vSphere and Virtual Infrastructure Security was written had theoretical solutions, I speak of Blue Pill style attacks. There were rumors of Hyperguard or Guard Hype tools becoming available, but they are only research projects. TXT on the other hand, offers protection from Blue Pill style attacks.
Due to what I stated during GestaltIT’s TechFieldDay, I was invited with Bas Raayman and others to discuss Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) in more detail with Chuck Hollis at EMC World. In addition, during one of the Keynotes SMT was renamed from Secure Multi-Tenancy to Simple Multi-Tenancy. The current Cisco VMware Netapp solution is plainly not secure. During the TechFieldDay at Cisco, Cisco even claimed “we did not think about security” when designing the initial solution. Cisco is worried about Quality of Service, I.E. Bandwidth through out the system to the disk. Furthermore, their definition of ‘Tenant’ was quite a bit different than my own. So we should first start off by defining Tenant.
The Tenant is the Legal Owner of the data that resides within the system.