The Diversity of TPMs and its Effects on Development: A Case Study of Integrating the TPM into OpenSolaris

Shubina, A., Bratus, S., Ingersol, W., Smith, S.W.

ACM Workshop on Scalable Trusted Computing (STC '10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 85-90, 2010.

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Broad adoption of secure programming primitives such as the TPM can be hurt by programmer confusion regarding the nature and representation of failures when using a primitive. Conversely, a clear understanding of the primitive's failure modes is essential for both debugging and reducing the attack surface in the mechanisms built on it. In particular, differences in error processing and reporting logic significantly detract from such understanding.

We present a case study of diversity in TPM behaviors and its effects on a TSS implementation, which emerged from the Sun/Dartmouth TCG/OpenSolaris project, one of the goals of which was instrumenting TPM support on Solaris. At the start of the project, both parties believed the instrumentation to be well-defined and, although time-consuming, relatively straightforward. In the course of the project we had to reexamine our assumptions concerning the state of the hardware and the software involved and the view of the system as presented to someone unfamiliar with its internals. We describe some failure modes we encountered and suggest directions for remediation.

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