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Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

OBLIVIATE: A Data Oblivious File System for Intel SGX

Adil Ahmad - Purdue University

Feb 14, 2018


Trusted computing is the key component in achieving confidentiality and integrity in modern
cloud environments. Commodity trusted hardware such as Intel SGX and ARM Trustzone
allow programs to execute and store sensitive data in secure memory regions. It is envisioned
that these systems will enable important applications from trusted data analytics and Private
Information Retrieval (PIR) in the cloud to content protection and secure financial services
in mobile settings.

This talk deals with the security aspects of SGX programs in accessing a key system resource,
files. Our focus would be on concrete attacks against existing SGX filesystem implementations
through well-known side-channels, as well as the design and implementation of an oblivious
filesystem to thwart aforementioned attacks.

Our solution, Obliviate, mitigates this threat using ORAM, a cryptographic primitive which enables
secure data access even when the attacker can observe all memory interactions. We show that
a naive implementation of ORAM within SGX opens vulnerability to other attacks and induces
a degree of overhead. Therefore, Obliviate develops a secure implementation of ORAM using
CMOV, an x86-based instruction, and employs other SGX-specific optimizations. We show
that Obliviate can secure all filesystem interactions while providing a performance improvement
of 6 − 8× over a baseline scheme. Potential use-cases of Obliviate include real-world cloud
applications such as web servers, databases and personal cloud storage. This work will appear
in NDSS 2018.

About the Speaker

Adil Ahmad is a PhD student with the Department of Computer Science at Purdue University, being
advised by Prof. Byoungyoung Lee. His primary research interests are in the field of systems and
security with a particular focus on hardware-assisted trusted computing.

Unless otherwise noted, the security seminar is held on Wednesdays at 4:30P.M. STEW G52, West Lafayette Campus. More information...


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