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CyberSEED: Virtual Machine Introspection to Detect and Protect

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It's turtles all the way down!

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CyberSEED: Virtual Machine Introspection to Detect and Protect

  1. 1. @CSICyberSEED Virtual Machine Introspection to Detect and Protect “It’s turtles all the way down!” Tamas K Lengyel @tklengyel
  2. 2. @CSICyberSEED # whoami • Senior Security Researcher at Novetta • PhD Student at UConn CSE • DARPA Cyber Fast Track participant • Maintainer of Xen, DRAKVUF & LibVMI
  3. 3. @CSICyberSEED Outline • Brief look at the current security model • Virtualization • Virtual Machine Introspection • It’s turtles all the way down!
  4. 4. @CSICyberSEED Current security model Low privilege High privilege
  5. 5. @CSICyberSEED Current security model Low privilege High privilege X
  6. 6. @CSICyberSEED The problem: Rootkits Low privilege High privilege
  7. 7. @CSICyberSEED The problem: Rootkits Low privilege High privilege X
  8. 8. @CSICyberSEED Virtualization Low privilege High privilege Higher privilege
  9. 9. @CSICyberSEED Virtual Machine Introspection Use the hypervisor for additional security! X X X X
  10. 10. @CSICyberSEED How? ● Isolation: provided by the hypervisor ● Interpretation: use forensics tools ○ LibVMI, Rekall, Volatility ● Interposition: use hardware extensions ○ Intel EPT, #VE
  11. 11. @CSICyberSEED But wait, this looks familiar.. X X XX X
  12. 12. @CSICyberSEED The million dollar question What protects the hypervisor?
  13. 13. @CSICyberSEED It’s turtles all the way down! A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russel) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!" — Hawking, A Brief History of Time
  14. 14. @CSICyberSEED Add some more layers Nested hypervisors Root hypervisor
  15. 15. @CSICyberSEED But why stop there? System Management Mode Dual-monitor mode Hypervisor SMM VM No nested hypervisor in SMM The real root hypervisor with reference implementation available! Only OEM access on most hw
  16. 16. @CSICyberSEED There is more! SMM Hypervisor SMM VM Intel Management Engine No reference implementation No documentation Only Intel has access
  17. 17. @CSICyberSEED The bottom line • Adding layers doesn’t solve the problem • Only increases the cost of breaking through • Building cross-layer tools is hard • That’s the whole point • Barrier erodes with time
  18. 18. @CSICyberSEED What’s the catch? • Keeping lower layers as small as possible • More code = more attack surface • Users should have the ability to inspect these layers • Lower the layer the fewer folks have insight/access • Isn’t that the perfect setup for DRM? • It may be about security - but not necessarily yours!
  19. 19. @CSICyberSEED Thanks! Tamas K Lengyel tamas@tklengyel.com tlengyel@novetta.com @tklengyel LibVMI http://libvmi.com DRAKVUF http://drakvuf.com