Document Type



Computer Science

Journal Title

2016 Ieee Symposium on Security and Privacy (Sp)

Pub Date


First Page



Recognizing the pressing demands to secure embedded applications, ARM TrustZone has been adopted in both academic research and commercial products to protect sensitive code and data in a privileged, isolated execution environment. However, the design of TrustZone cannot prevent physical memory disclosure attacks such as cold boot attack from gaining unrestricted read access to the sensitive contents in the dynamic random access memory (DRAM). A number of system-on-chip (SoC) bound execution solutions have been proposed to thaw the cold boot attack by storing sensitive data only in CPU registers, CPU cache or internal RAM. However, when the operating system, which is responsible for creating and maintaining the SoC-bound execution environment, is compromised, all the sensitive data is leaked. In this paper, we present the design and development of a cache-assisted secure execution framework, called CaSE, on ARM processors to defend against sophisticated attackers who can launch multi-vector attacks including software attacks and hardware memory disclosure attacks. CaSE utilizes TrustZone and Cache-as-RAM technique to create a cache-based isolated execution environment, which can protect both code and data of security-sensitive applications against the compromised OS and the cold boot attack. To protect the sensitive code and data against cold boot attack, applications are encrypted in memory and decrypted only within the processor for execution. The memory separation and the cache separation provided by TrustZone are used to protect the cached applications against compromised OS. We implement a prototype of CaSE on the i.MX53 running ARM Cortex-A8 processor. The experimental results show that CaSE incurs small impacts on system performance when executing cryptographic algorithms including AES, RSA, and SHA1.