Thin Hypervisor-Based Security Architectures for Embedded Platforms
Abstract: Virtualization has grown increasingly popular, thanks to its benefits of isolation, management, and utilization, supported by hardware advances. It is also receiving attention for its potential to support security, through hypervisor-based services and advanced protections supplied to guests. Today, virtualization is even making inroads in the embedded space, and embedded systems, with their security needs, have already started to benefit from virtualization’s security potential. In this thesis, we investigate the possibilities for thin hypervisor-based security on embedded platforms. In addition to significant background study, we present implementation of a low-footprint, thin hypervisor capable of providing security protections to a single FreeRTOS guest kernel on ARM. Backed by performance test results, our hypervisor provides security to a formerly unsecured kernel with minimal performance overhead, and represents a first step in a greater research effort into the security advantages and possibilities of embedded thin hypervisors. Our results show that thin hypervisors are both possible and beneficial even on limited embedded systems, and sets the stage for more advanced investigations, implementations, and security applications in the future.
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