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With the widespread adoption of cloud computing, the ability to record and account for the usage of cloud resources in a credible and verifiable way has become critical for cloud service providers and users alike. The success of such a billing system depends on several factors: The billing transactions must have integrity and nonrepudiation capabilities; the billing transactions must be nonobstructive and have a minimal computation cost; and the service level agreement (SLA) monitoring should be provided in a trusted manner. Existing billing systems are limited in terms of security capabilities or computational overhead. In this paper, we propose a secure and nonobstructive billing system called THEMIS as a remedy for these limitations. The system uses a novel concept of a cloud notary authority for the supervision of billing. The cloud notary authority generates mutually verifiable binding information that can be used to resolve future disputes between a user and a cloud service provider in a computationally efficient way. Furthermore, to provide a forgery-resistive SLA monitoring mechanism, we devised a SLA monitoring module enhanced with a trusted platform module (TPM), called S-Mon. The performance evaluation confirms that the overall latency of THEMIS billing transactions (avg. 4.89 ms) is much shorter than the latency of public key infrastructure (PKI)-based billing transactions (avg. 82.51 ms), though THEMIS guarantees identical security features as a PKI. This work has been undertaken on a real cloud computing service called iCubeCloud.
Date of Publication: July-Sept. 2013