Skip to main content

Seminar:  Side Channels in Multi-Tenant Environments

Date:October 10, 2014 
Talk Title:Side Channels in Multi-Tenant Environments
Speaker:Mike Reiter, Professor at UNC Chapel Hill and Founding Technical Director of CyLab
Time & Location:12:00pm - 1:00pm
CIC Building, Pittsburgh


With the growth of cloud computing, the security provided by public clouds to their tenants is increasingly being scrutinized, in part because these clouds arrange for mutually distrustful tenants to simultaneously execute tasks on the same hardware.  In this talk we explore a long-suspected but, to date, largely hypothetical attack vector in public clouds, namely "side-channel attacks" in which one tenant might learn sensitive information about another tenant simply by running on the same hardware with it, but without violating the logical access control enforced by the cloud's isolation software (hypervisor or operating system).  Specifically, we demonstrate the practicality of damaging cross-tenant side-channel attacks on modern hypervisors and operating systems, including some that we have demonstrated on commercial public clouds.  We will then describe various approaches we have developed to defend against side-channel attacks in cloud environments, both inexpensive defenses against our specific attacks and more holistic but expensive protections.

Speaker Bio

Prof. Reiter's research interests include all areas of computer and communications security and distributed computing.  His present research focuses primarily on security of cloud computing and networks, as well as usable security.  He received the B.S. degree in mathematical sciences from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) in 1989, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Cornell University in 1991 and 1993, respectively. He joined AT&T Bell Labs in 1993 and became a founding member of AT&T Labs – Research when NCR and Lucent Technologies (including Bell Labs) were split away from AT&T in 1996. He then returned to Bell Labs in 1998 as Director of Secure Systems Research. In 2001, he joined Carnegie Mellon University as a Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science, where he was also the founding Technical Director of CyLab. He joined the faculty at UNC in 2007.