Saturday, October 1, 2011

CHES '11 - Invited talk 1

The first invited talk at this year's CHES was given by Ernie Brickell of Intel. The talk was on 'Technologies to Improve Platform Security' and in particular Intel's plans and progress towards achieving this goal. Ernie defined a grouping of four particular 'pillars' of security and outlined for each work done to date to build each pillar: identity protection and fraud deliverance, detection and prevention of malware, securing data and assets, recovery and enhanced patching.

One particularly interesting innovation with respect to the identity protection and fraud deliverance pillar was a hardware token, isolated from any other CPU code, that allows for the generation of one-time passwords; effectively having a traditional physical token for two-factor authentication inside a PC. In addition to improvements in both hardware and software implementations of crypto, the 'securing data and assets' pillar outlined a new digital source of random number generation.

There was also an interesting discussion on ways of stopping escalation of privilege attacks; for instance stopping agents executing user-mode code in ring 0 - this was one of the attack vectors used by Stuxnet.

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