Complexity in commodity operating systems makes compromises inevitable. Consequently, a great deal of work has examined how to protect security-critical portions of applications from the OS through mechanisms such as microkernels, virtual machine monitors, and new processor architectures. Unfortunately, most work has focused on CPU and memory isolation and neglected OS semantics. Thus, while much is known about how to prevent OS and application processes from modifying each other, far less is understood about how different OS components can undermine application security if they turn malicious. We consider this problem in the context of our work on Overshadow, a virtual-machine-based system for retrofitting protection in commodity operating systems.
Tal Garfinkel (VMware), Dan Ports (VMware/MIT)