Architecture for protecting critical secrets in microprocessors

Ruby B. Lee, Peter C.S. Kwan, John P. McGregor, Jeffrey Dwoskin, Zhenghong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


We propose "secret-protected (SP)" architecture to enable secure and convenient protection of critical secrets for a given user in an on-line environment. Keys are examples of critical secrets, and key protection and management is a fundamental problem - often assumed but not solved - underlying the use of cryptographic protection of sensitive files, messages, data and programs. SP-processors contain a minimalist set of architectural features that can be built into a general-purpose microprocessor to provide protection of critical secrets and their computations, without expensive or inconvenient auxiliary hardware. SP-architecture also requires a trusted software module, a few modifications to the operating system, a secure I/O path to the user, and a secure installation process. Unique aspects of our architecture include: decoupling of user secrets from the devices, enabling users to securely access their keys from different networked computing devices; the use of symmetric master keys rather than more costly public-private key pairs; and the avoidance of any permanent or factory-installed device secrets

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-13
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings - International Symposium on Computer Architecture
StatePublished - 2005
Event32nd Interntional Symposium on Computer Architecture, ISCA 2005 - Madison, WI, United States
Duration: Jun 4 2005Jun 8 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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