Hardware foundation for secure computing
Software security solutions are often considered to be more adaptable than their hardware counterparts. However, software has to work within the limitations of the system hardware platform, of which the selection is often dictated by functionality rather than security. Performance issues of security solutions without proper hardware support are easy to understand. The real challenge, however, is in the dilemma of "what should be done?" vs. "what could be done?" Security software could become ineffective if its "liberal" assumptions, e.g., the availability of a substantial trusted computing base (TCB) on the hardware platform, are violated. To address this dilemma, we have been developing and prototyping a security-by-design hardware foundation platform that enhances mainstream microprocessors with proper hardware security primitives to support and enhance software security solutions. This paper describes our progress in the use of a customized security co-processor to provide security services.