Towards a Trustworthy Thin Terminal for Securing Enterprise Networks Public
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Organizations have many employees that lack the technical knowledge to securely operate their machines. These users may open malicious email attachments/links or install unverified software such as P2P programs. These actions introduce significant risk to an organization's network since they allow attackers to exploit the trust and access given to a client machine. However, system administrators currently lack the control of client machines needed to prevent these security risks. A possible solution to address this issue lies in attestation. With respect to computer science, attestation is the ability of a machine to prove its current state. This capability can be used by client machines to remotely attest to their state, which can be used by other machines in the network when making trust decisions. Previous research in this area has focused on the use of a static root of trust (RoT), requiring the use of a chain of trust over the entire software stack. We would argue this approach is limited in feasibility, because it requires an understanding and evaluation of the all the previous states of a machine. With the use of late launch, a dynamic root of trust introduced in the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) v1.2 specification, the required chain of trust is drastically shortened, minimizing the previous states of a machine that must be evaluated. This reduced chain of trust may allow a dynamic RoT to address the limitations of a static RoT. We are implementing a client terminal service that utilizes late launch to attest to its execution. Further, the minimal functional requirements of the service facilitate strong software verification. The goal in designing this service is not to increase the security of the network, but rather to push the functionality, and therefore the security risks and responsibilities, of client machines to the networkÂ’s servers. In doing so, we create a platform that can more easily be administered by those individuals best equipped to do so with the expectation that this will lead to better security practices. Through the use of late launch and remote attestation in our terminal service, the system administrators have a strong guarantee the clients connecting to their system are secure and can therefore focus their efforts on securing the server architecture. This effectively addresses our motivating problem as it forces user actions to occur under the control of system administrators.
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