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ISSN: 1545-5971
Fengwei Zhang , George Mason University, Fairfax
Jiang Wang , Riverbed Technology, Sunnyvale
Kun Sun , George Mason University, Fairfax
Angelos Stavrou , George Mason University, Fairfax
The advent of cloud computing and inexpensive multi-core desktop architectures has lead to the widespread adoption of virtualization technologies. Furthermore, security researchers embraced virtual machine monitors (VMMs) as a new mechanism to guarantee deep isolation of untrusted software components, which coupled with their popularity promoted VMMs as a prime target for exploitation. In this paper, we present HyperCheck, a hardware-assisted tampering detection framework designed to protect the integrity of hypervisors and operating systems. Our approach leverages System Management Mode (SMM), a CPU mode in x86 architecture, to transparently and securely acquire and transmit the full state of a protected machine to a remote server. We have implement two prototypes based on our framework design: HyperCheck-I and HyperCheck-II, that vary in their security assumptions and OS code dependence. In our experiments, we are able to identify rootkits that target the integrity of both hypervisors and operating systems. We show that HyperCheck can defend against attacks that attempt to evade our system. In terms of performance, we measured that HyperCheck can communicate the entire static code of Xen hypervisor and CPU register states in less than 90 million CPU cycles, or 90 ms on a 1 GHz CPU.
Coreboot, Hypervisor, System Management Mode, Kernel

F. Zhang, J. Wang, K. Sun and A. Stavrou, "HyperCheck: A Hardware-Assisted Integrity Monitor," in IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing.
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