Counteracting security attacks in virtual machines in the cloud using property based attestation

Vijay Varadharajan*, Udaya Tupakula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Cloud computing technologies are receiving a great deal of attention. Furthermore most of the hardware devices such as the PCs and mobile phones are increasingly having a trusted component called Trusted Platform Module embedded in them, which helps to measure the state of the platform and hence reason about its trust. Recently attestation techniques such as binary attestation and property based attestation techniques have been proposed based on the TPM. In this paper, we propose a novel trust enhanced security model for cloud services that helps to detect and prevent security attacks in cloud infrastructures using trusted attestation techniques. We consider a cloud architecture where different services are hosted on virtualized systems on the cloud by multiple cloud customers (multi-tenants). We consider attacker model and various attack scenarios for such hosted services in the cloud. Our trust enhanced security model enables the cloud service provider to certify certain security properties of the tenant virtual machines and services running on them. These properties are then used to detect and minimise attacks between the cloud tenants running virtual machines on the infrastructure and its customers as well as increase the assurance of the tenant virtual machine transactions. If there is a variation in the behaviour of the tenant virtual machine from the certified properties, the model allows us to dynamically isolate the tenant virtual machine or even terminate the malicious services on a fine granular basis. The paper describes the design and implementation of the proposed model and discusses how it deals with the different attack scenarios. We also show that our model is beneficial for the cloud service providers, cloud customers running tenant virtual machines as well as the customers using the services provided by these tenant virtual machines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Network and Computer Applications
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Cloud
  • Malware
  • Rootkits
  • TPM attestation
  • Trusted computing
  • Virtual machine monitors
  • Zero day attacks

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