17th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference
December 10-14, 2001
New Orleans, Louisiana


Securing Web Servers against Insider Attack

Shan Jiang, Sean Smith, Kazuhiro Minami
Dartmouth College
USA

Too often, 'security of Web transactions' reduces to 'encryption of the channel'---and neglects to address what happens at the server on the other end. This oversight forces clients to trust the good intentions and competence of the server operator---but gives clients no basis for that trust. In this paper, we apply secure coprocessing and cryptography to solve this real problem in Web technology. We present a vision: using secure coprocessors to establish trusted co-servers at Web servers and moving sensitive computations inside these co-servers; we present a prototype implementation of this vision that scales to realistic workloads; and we validate this approach by building a simple E-voting application on top of our prototype.

By showing the real potential of COTS secure coprocessing technology to establish trusted islands of computation in hostile environments---such as at web servers with risk of insider attack---this work also helps demonstrate that 'secure hardware' can be more than synonym for 'cryptographic accelerator.'

Keywords: secure coprocessors, SSL, insider attack, e-commerce

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