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Autonomic Recovery of Enterprise-Wide Systems After Attack or Failure With Forward Correction

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Technical Report,01 Jul 2007,30 Nov 2011

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George Mason University Fairfax United States

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Over the past few years, virtualization has been employed to environments ranging from densely populated cloud computing clusters to home desktop computers. Security researchers embraced virtual machine monitors VMMs as a new mechanism to guarantee deep isolation of untrusted software components. Unfortunately, their widespread adoption promoted VMMs as a prime target for attackers. In this paper, we present HyperCheck, a hardware-assisted tampering detection framework designed to protect the integrity of VMMs and, for some classes of attacks, the underlying operating system OS. HyperCheck leverages the CPU System Management Mode SMM, present in x86 systems, to securely generate and transmit the full state of the protected machine to an external server. Using HyperCheck, we were able to ferret-out rootkits that targeted the integrity of both the Xen hypervisor and traditional OSes. Moreover, HyperCheck is robust against attacks that aim to disable or block its operation. Our experimental results show that HyperCheck can produce and communicate a scan of the state of the protected software in less than 40ms.

Subject Categories:

  • Computer Systems Management and Standards

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