Plugging Side-Channel Leaks with Timing Information Flow Control

Bryan Ford
Yale University

4th USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Cloud Computing (HotCloud '12)
June 13, 2012, Boston, MA


The cloud model's dependence on massive parallelism and resource sharing exacerbates the security challenge of timing side-channels. Timing Information Flow Control (TIFC) is a novel adaptation of IFC techniques that may offer a way to reason about, and ultimately control, the flow of sensitive information through systems via timing channels. With TIFC, objects such as files, messages, and processes carry not just content labels describing the ownership of the object's “bits,” but also timing labels describing information contained in timing events affecting the object, such as process creation/termination or message reception. With two system design tools—deterministic execution and pacing queues—TIFC enables the construction of “timing-hardened” cloud infrastructure that permits statistical multiplexing, while aggregating and rate-limiting timing information leakage between hosted computations.

Paper: PDF

Slides: OpenOffice PDF

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant CNS-1149936.