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vTPM: Virtualizing the Trusted Platform Module

We present the design and implementation of a system that enables trusted computing for an unlimited number of virtual machines on a single hardware platform. To this end, we virtualized the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). As a result, the TPM’s secure storage and cryptographic functions are available to operating systems and applications running in virtual machines. Our new facility supports higher-level services for establishing trust in virtualized environments, for example remote attestation of software integrity.

We implemented the full TPM specification in software and added functions to create and destroy virtual TPM instances. We integrated our software TPM into a hypervisor environment to make TPM functions available to virtual machines. Our virtual TPM supports suspend and resume operations, as well as migration of a virtual TPM instance with its respective virtual machine across platforms. We present four designs for certificate chains to link the virtual TPM to a hardware TPM, with security vs. efficiency trade-offs based on threat models. Finally, we demonstrate a working system by layering an existing integrity measurement application on top of our virtual TPM facility.

By: Stefan Berger, Ramón Cáceres, Kenneth A. Goldman, Ronald Perez, Reiner Sailer, Leendert van Doorn

Published in: RC23879 in 2006

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