Usability and Security of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Library APIs

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Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Conference article in proceedings
Date
2022
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
20
213-232
Series
Proceedings of the 18th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, SOUPS 2022
Abstract
Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) provide a hardwarebased root of trust and secure storage and help verify their host's integrity. Software developers can interact with a TPM and utilize its functionalities using standardized APIs that various libraries have implemented. We present a qualitative study (n=9) involving task analysis and cognitive interviews that uncovered several usability and security issues with tpm2-tools, one of the widely used TPM library APIs. Towards this end, we implemented a study environment that we will release as open source to support further studies. Our results support two major conclusions: 1) tpm2-tools APIs, as designed, are not designed to be developer-friendly, and 2) One of the major causes for these usability issues is in the TPM specifications. Since other libraries also mirror the specifications and provide no significant usability improvements, our results are likely to indicate similar issues with all current TPM library APIs. We provide recommendations for improving theTPM library APIs documentation and software, and we highlight the need for HCI experts to review TPM specifications to preemptively address usability pitfalls.
Description
Funding Information: We thank our anonymous reviewers for their insightful reviews and feedback that helped us improve the paper. We also thank our participants, without whom this study would not have been possible. We are grateful to Yoan Miche from Nokia Bell Labs for his support and discussions throughout this research project.
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Citation
Rao , S P , Limonta , G & Lindqvist , J 2022 , Usability and Security of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Library APIs . in Proceedings of the 18th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, SOUPS 2022 . USENIX -The Advanced Computing Systems Association , pp. 213-232 , Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security , Boston , Massachusetts , United States , 07/08/2022 .