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[Colloquium] Security Across the Software-Silicon Boundary

April 10, 2012

Watch Colloquium:

M4V file (658 MB)

  • Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 
  • Time: 11:00 am — 12:15 pm 
  • Place: Mechanical Engineering 218

Mohit Tiwari
University of California, Berkeley

The synergy between computer architecture and program analysis can reveal vital insights into the design of secure systems. The ability to control information as it flows through a machine is a key primitive for computer security, however, software-only analyses are vulnerable to leaks in the underlying hardware. In my talk, I will demonstrate how complete information flow control can be achieved by co-designing an analysis together with the processor architecture. The analysis technique, GLIFT, is based on the insight that all information flows — whether explicit, implicit, or timing channels — look surprisingly alike at the gate level where assembly language descriptions crystallize into precise logical functions. The architecture introduces Execution Leases, a programming model that allows a small kernel to directly control the flow of all secret or untrusted information, and whose implementation is verifiably free from all digital information leaks. In the future, my research will use this cross-cutting approach to build systems that make security and privacy accessible to mainstream users while supporting untrusted applications across cloud and client devices.


Bio: Mohit Tiwari is a Computing Innovation Fellow at University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in Computer Science from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2011. His research uses computer architecture and program analyses to build secure, reliable systems, and has received a Best Paper award at PACT 2009, an IEEE Micro Top Pick in 2010, and the Outstanding Dissertation award in Computer Science at UCSB in 2011.