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sHype: Secure Hypervisor Approach to Trusted Virtualized Systems

We present an operating system independent hypervisor security architecture and its application to control information flow between operating systems sharing a single hardware platform. New computing paradigms -such as Grid computing, On-demand services, or Web Services- increasingly depend on the security of the underlying computing infrastructure. A fundamental security problem today is that almost all available security controls for protecting the computing infrastructure rely on the security expected from the operating system. However, common off-the-shelf operating systems are too large and complex to provide the security guarantees required for critical applications. Hypervisors are becoming a ubiquitous virtualization layer on client and server systems. They are designed to isolate operating systems by running them in isolated run-time environments on a single hardware platform. Thus, a malicious or manipulated OS can be isolated and security breaches can be contained within it. However, since distributed services need resource sharing, operating systems must be allowed to co-operate. Our contribution in this paper is the extension of a full-isolation hypervisor with security mechanisms that enable controlled resource sharing between virtual machines to secure this co-operation. We have successfully implemented our hypervisor security architecture (sHype) into a fully functional multi-platform researchhypervisor (vHype). sHype implements a security reference monitor interface in the hypervisor to enforce information flow constraints between virtual machines.

By: Reiner Sailer; Enriquillo Valdez; Trent Jaeger; Ronald Perez; Leendert van Doorn; John Linwood Griffin; Stefan Berger

Published in: RC23511 in 2005

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