Virtualized mobile platform security with dynamic policy updating

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Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
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ix + 101 s.
Security by virtualization in mobile devices is more and more relevant after the recent issues revealed in cases known as Snowden leaks, Heartbleed and Apple's SSL goto bug. Monolithic operating systems have large code bases, which makes it difficult to detect such issues and to limit damage by isolating parts of the system to different security domains. For this reason, new security architectures are increasingly placed one layer below the operating system. Separating of the execution to isolated domains with a lightweight component, such as a hypervisor, which runs on a higher privilege level below the operating system, makes it easier for enterprise security professionals to maintain and control the secure systems. When vulnerabilities are found in system software, the software vendor, equipment manufacturers, and users or system administrators need to respond quickly and update the software. This is especially the case for the fast-changing mobile computing environments. Unfortunately, the development and validation of the recovery patches takes time, and the simultaneous distribution of the gigabyte sized fresh system images to millions of devices causes' massive data traffic. Moreover, patching mobile devices, which are on the move, may cause excessive battery and cellular data consumption. Nevertheless, response time is critical in the case of mobile client security. In this thesis, we propose a mobile security architecture which utilizes low-level full virtualization with dynamic security updates. The updates are in the form of policies, which are efficient to develop and distribute due to their minimal size. The work includes the definition, implementation of proof-of-concept, and security evaluation of the proposed architecture. This architecture enables enterprise security professionals to maintain and deploy standard system images across their organization, and to respond to security issues rapidly and independently from the software vendor or equipment manufacturers.
Aura, Tuomas
Thesis advisor
Sovio, Sampo
Ekberg, Jan-Erik
virtualization, hypervisor, mobile security, security policy enforcement, platform security
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