Architectural Protection of Application Privacy against Software and Physical Attacks in Untrusted Cloud Environment

Lei Xu, Jonghyuk Lee, Seung Hun Kim, Qingji Zheng, Shouhuai Xu, Taeweon Suh, Won Woo Ro, Weidong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In cloud computing, it is often assumed that cloud vendors are trusted; the guest Operating System (OS) and the Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM, also called Hypervisor) are secure. However, these assumptions are not always true in practice and existing approaches cannot protect the data privacy of applications when none of these parties are trusted. We investigate how to cope with a strong threat model which is that the cloud vendors, the guest OS, or the VMM, or both of them are malicious or untrusted, and can launch attacks against privacy of trusted user applications. This model is relevant because applications may be small enough to be formally verified, while the guest OS and VMM are too complex to be formally verified. Specifically, we present the design and analysis of an architectural solution which integrates a set of components on-chip to protect the memory of trusted applications from potential software and hardware based attacks from untrusted cloud providers, compromised guest OS, or malicious VMM. Full-system performance evaluation results show that the design only incurs 9 percent overhead on average, which is a small performance price that is paid for the substantial security gain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-491
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 IEEE.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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