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Barkhausen Institut

HW/SW Design Challenges for Secure Computing Platforms

In a talk at the HiPEAC Computing Systems Week 2021 in Lyon, Dr. Sebastian Haas and Dr. Nils Asmussen from the Barkhausen Institut presented design challenges and the current research on security concepts at the hardware and software level in today’s computing platforms.

Our world becomes increasing digital and employs computing systems in almost all areas of our lives. These systems are often shared among multiple users and may be connected to the physical world, to the Internet, or even both at the same time. Such use cases raise new security challenges, in particular in times where attacks and data breaches hit the news almost daily. These security issues are not limited to software bugs anymore, but include also hardware vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre, as recent years have shown.

In this talk, we argue that point solutions are no longer sufficient as security is a cross-cutting concern that needs to be addressed at the hardware, operating-system, and application level. We start with the challenges regarding hardware and software attacks, following by an overview of the current hardware-level and software-level solutions. Finally, we present our own research, a hardware/software co-design that provides strong isolation on the hardware level with a specifically tailored operating system on top.