CleanOS: Limiting Mobile Data Exposure with Idle Eviction (OSDI'12)

4503 2012-12-06 06:40

Columbia University, paper slides, video

1. Problem

How to protect sensitive data in mobile phones? Mobile devices are extremely prone to be stolen or lost.

2. Challenges

  • Users don’t lock their devices (57%) or configure poor passwords
  • Physical attacks are notoriously difficult to protect against
    • E.g., memory dumps, cold boot attacks, breaking trusted-hardware seals can reveal data or decryption keys

3. Solution

CleanOS evicts cryptographic keys to the trusted cloud and keeps a clean environment at all times:

  1. Sensitive data objects (SDOs) disappear automatically unless are frequently used
  2. evict-idle garbage collector (eiGC) encrypts objects that have not been active for a while

Architecture Overview: 1. SDO abstraction, 2. Dalvik interpreter with eiGC, 3. SDO cloud store


Application developers restrict sensitive data with SDO. There are three default default: “SSL”, “User Input”, “Password” SDOs in SDK. And it does not rely on app modifications.

class SDO {
	SDO(String description, SDOLevel level) // new SDO
	void add(Object o)		// adds object to SDO
	void remvoe(Object o)	// removes object from SDO
// CleanOS protocol between the phone and the cloud
registerSDO(sdoID, appName, description, key)
	// register SDO with DB
fetchKey(appName, sdoID, bucketID) -> key || null
	// fetches the key for a bucket in the SDO
	// bucketID = 0 returns the SDO's key
sdoEvicted(appName, sdoID)
	// anounces an SDO's eviction to the cloud

Dalvik VM

  1. Tracking module(Modified TaintDroid): automatically marks and saves SDO
  2. Eviction module with eiGC: periodically sdoEvicted() (AES)
  3. Decryption module: fetchKey() (Several keys at once)

Trusted Clouds

The cloud keeps the DB to store SDO information and audit logs.

Implementation & Evaluation

Dalvik VM(TaintDroid taint-tracking system, interpreter, GC,…) , Google App Engine.

Exposure: ~100% to <~7%

Auditing: much better with user-defined SDOs

Reasonable network traffic and energy overhead with optimization.

4. Conclusion

Smartphones accumulate sensitive data over time and is vulnerable to physical attacks. CleanOS protects confidentiality in smartphones by evicting idle sensitive data to the trusted cloud. The idea is mainly implemented with SDO and eiGC. It successfully provides practical protection and auditing services for Android devices.


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