Virtualization

HyperCheck: A Hardware-Assisted Integrity Monitor

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Executive Summary

Over the past few years, virtualization has been employed to environments ranging from densely populated cloud computing clusters to home desktop computers. Security researchers embraced Virtual Machine Monitors (VMMs) as a new mechanism to guarantee deep isolation of untrusted software components. Unfortunately, their widespread adoption promoted VMMs as a prime target for attackers. In this paper, the authors present HyperCheck, a hardware-assisted tampering detection framework designed to protect the integrity of VMMs and, for some classes of attacks, the underlying Operating System (OS). HyperCheck leverages the CPU System Management Mode (SMM), present in x86 systems, to securely generate and transmit the full state of the protected machine to an external server.

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