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about adrian perrig

Adrian PerrigAdrian Perrig is the technical director for CyLab. He is a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering and Public Policy, and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and spent three years during his Ph.D. degree at University of California at Berkeley. He received his B.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Adrian's research interests revolve around building secure systems and include Internet security, security for sensor networks and mobile applications.

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CyLab Chronicles

Q&A with Adrian Perrig

posted by Richard Power

CyLab Chronicles: How would you describe the hyper-visor?

PERRIG: Our SecVisor system implements a security hypervisor, which provides a hardware abstraction of the memory management unit to the operating system (OS). Essentially, SecVisor makes the OS believe that the OS is in control of memory, even though SecVisor is in full control. SecVisor then uses this control to protect the OS against malicious writes to its code, as well as ensure that only authorized code can execute in the kernel privilege level.

CyLab Chronicles: What are the unique attributes of your work?

PERRIG: So far, hypervisors and virtual machine monitors were very large in size, for example the code size of Xen is on the order of 100,000 lines of code. In contrast, SecVisor is less than 2000 lines of code, which makes it amenable to formal verification.

CyLab Chronicles:  What problem(s) does the hypervisor address?

PERRIG: SecVisor protects the OS against malicious writes to its code segment, even in the case of malicious DMA devices. Moreover, SecVisor ensures that only authorized code can execute in kernel privilege. These properties defend legacy kernels against the majority of malware such as kernel-level rootkits.

CyLab Chronicles: What are the commercial implications of your work?

PERRIG: SecVisor can protect legacy OSes with security vulnerabilities against the majority of kernel malware. Several corporations are very interested in this technology, mainly because SecVisor provides strong protections with minimal changes to current systems.

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