Secure Computer Architectures

With the emergence of public cloud computing and the internet of things, modern computer architectures are innadecuate to address the security and privacy concerns of users. In this work, we look for innovative solutions to secure the computer from the hardware up. By designing the computer architecture with security as a number one priority, along with performance, we can provide additional guarantees about the security and privacy of data.  (Student: Ange-Thierry Ishimwe)

Secure Non Volatile Memory

Non-volatile storage technologies have advanced so much in the last several years that system architects are now considering to use them as main memory. Recently Intel came out with their new non-volatile technology, Intel Optane Persistent Memory,  that integrates a non-volatile storage device to be used as main memory. A lot of work has gone into making sure this new technology performs just as fast as its volatile counterparts. However, not many pieces of work have looked at how to secure the data in non-volatile memory against physical attacks. In this work we are looking at ways of redesigning the secure memory constructs to be applicable to non-volatile memory devices. We are looking to integrate both hardware and software techniques to protect a system that uses non-volatile main memory from physical attacks, privilege escalation attacks and attacks that look to scramble values in memory to steal secrets (e.g. rowhammer attacks). We also want to take advantage of the durability of the non-volatile devices to design ways of recovering from attacks. 

Re-Enforcing Critical Thinking Skills to Defeat Fake News

Fake news have proliferated social media platforms for a while now. It is clear that foreign and other actors have used fake news to increase polarization in our society and impact democracy in the United Stated. In this work we are looking to understand what affects the ability of a person to identify fake news. With these observations we will develop tools that provide resilience against malicious actors that use fake news to affect our democracy. 

Evaluating The Impact of The Russian Agency in Twitter

Social media platforms have been playing an important role in democracy. The ability to reach millions of users with a single Tweet, or Facebook post, is a simple way to get a meesage across. This is why foreign actors have used social media platforms to try to influence elections. In the United States, the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) tried to influence the 2016 presidential election on Twitter. While Twitter deleted their accounts once they were identified, there have been lots of work in both the public and private sector to understand their impact. A lot of these pieces of work concluded that the IRA behavior on Twitter had no impact on users. Unlike prior work, we analyzed the before and after behavior of the users contacted by the agency, and actually did find a difference in their behavior. (Student: Rhett Hanscom)   

Passive and Active Spectrum Sharing (PASS)

Radio frequency (RF) spectrum has become a scarce resource. The days of exclusive spectrum allocations are gone – the age of spectrum sharing is upon us. Sharing between passive and active systems is challenging, because sensors cannot determine if a passive system is in use, actively making observations that would be corrupted by an active service transmitting. Moreover, many passive systems are sensitive to RF noise pollution. The proposed Passive and Active Spectrum Sharing (PASS) project directly addresses the problem of protecting passive users while enabling secure, dynamic spectrum sharing between passive and active systems. (Student: Sylvia Llosa)

GHOST: 5G Hidden Operations through Securing Traffic

5G is emerging and is expected to soon become near-ubiquitous around the world. Hence, U.S. government organizations such as the military and State Department, as well as nongovernmental humanitarian aid organizations, and private sector enterprises should take advantage of indigenous 5G networks to eliminate the costs of installing and maintaining an alternate communications infrastructure. However, in many areas of the world, 5G networks are deployed and operated by organizations that are untrusted and potentially hostile to the U.S. In these environments, new security technologies must enable secure operations over untrusted networks. The GHOST project protects end-user devices and non-indigenous networking equipment from potential compromise through the use of Trusted Execution Environments. The GHOST project prohibits traffic analysis through two mechanisms: the use of Software Defined Credentials; and the use of anonymization techniques to obfuscate communications connections. Finally, the GHOST project obscures changes in traffic volume by maintaining a minimum level of “GHOST” traffic, and provides for pre-scripted traffic models to confuse and mislead traffic analysis.

Standard Security Metric Definition for Hardware Design

The research problem this project is addressing is the lack of standardized methods to measure and simulate hardware security. This lack of support leaves the community without a way to compare security guarantees of different architectural designs. The objectives of this proposal are to develop and establish a standard method for evaluating tradeoffs between security guarantees and performance within the hardware design cycle. The proposed project will establish and promote a fundamental shift in the way computer architecture research is conducted to include security as a first-class design requirement. The PI will enable microarchitectural measurements of security to concurrently evaluate both the performance and security implications of potential computer architectures during the design stage (Student: Phaedra Curlin).