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Fast secure processor for inhibiting software piracy and tampering

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3 Author(s)
Jun Yang ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Eng., California Univ., Riverside, CA, USA ; Youtao Zhang ; Lan Gao

Due to the widespread software piracy and virus attacks, significant efforts have been made to improve security for computer systems. For stand-alone computers, a key observation is that other than the processor, any component is vulnerable to security attacks. Recently, an execution only memory (XOM) architecture has been proposed to support copy and tamper resistant software by D. Lie et al. (2000), D. Lie et al. (2003) and T. Gilmont et al. (1999). In this design, the program and data are stored in encrypted format outside the CPU boundary. The decryption is carried after they are fetched from memory, and before they are used by the CPU. As a result, the lengthened critical path causes a serious performance degradation. In this paper, we present an innovative technique in which the cryptography computation is shifted off from the memory access critical path. We propose to use a different encryption scheme, namely "one-time pad" encryption, to produce the instructions and data ciphertext. With some additional on-chip storage, cryptography computations are carried in parallel with memory accesses, minimizing performance penalty. We performed experiments to study the trade-off between storage size and performance penalty. Our technique improves the execution speed of the XOM architecture by 34% at maximum.

Published in:

Microarchitecture, 2003. MICRO-36. Proceedings. 36th Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

3-5 Dec. 2003