Thursday, May 16, 2019

ICMC2019: Intel SGX's Open Source Approach to 3rd Party Attestation

Dan Zimmerman, Security Technologist, Intel, United States

SGX is a set of CPU instructions that enable the creation of memory regions with security features called 'enclaves'. It has encrypted memory with strong access controls, updatable trusted computing base (TCB). Developers can leverage this to relocate sensitive code and data to the enclave, which has a per process trusted execution environment (TEE).

Common use cases are key protection, confidential computing, and crypto module isolation.

SGX Remote Attestation is a demonstration that software has been properly instantiated on a platform in good standing, fully patched and indeed in the enclave. Attestation evidence conveys identity of the software being attested, associated report data and details of the unmeasured state.

The attestation service is truly verification as a service, using privacy preserving and based on enhanced privacy ID (EPID). This approach does require that you're online and connect to a service.
The newer approach is Datacenter Attestation Primitives (Intel SGX DCAP). It is datacenter and cloud service provider focused. Flexible provisioning and based on ECDSA signatures, a well known verification algorithm. Theses primitives allow for construction of on-prem attestation services. This will leverage flexible launch control on the new Intel SGX enabled platforms. And best of all, it's OpenSource! (that's how it got into the opensource track :-) )

Platform Certification Key (PCK) Retrieval. Intel issues a PCK Certificate for each of its processors at various TCBs. The retrieval tool will extract platform provisioning ID info for Intel PCS service requests. There is also a provisioning certification service and caching service.

There is a quote generation library that has an API for generating attestation evidence for an Intel SGX based enclave, and of course a quote verification library.

SGX Remote Attestation is important as a successful attestation provides increased confidence to Relying Parties prior to deploying secrets to application enclaves. It also allows for policy based decisions based on quote verification outcomes.

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