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Securing Web Servers against Insider Attack
Shan Jiang, Sean Smith, Kazuhiro Minami
Dartmouth TR2001-410


Too often, ``security of Web transactions'' reduces to ``encryption of the channel''---and neglects to address what happens at the server on the other end. This oversight forces clients to trust the good intentions and competence of the server operator---but gives clients no basis for that trust. Furthermore, despite academic and industrial research in secure coprocessing, many in the computer science community still regard ``secure hardware'' as a synonym for ``cryptographic accelerator.' This oversight neglects the real potential of COTS secure coprocessing technology to establish trusted islands of computation in hostile environments---such as at web servers with risk of insider attack.

In this paper, we apply secure coprocessing and cryptography to solve this real problem in Web technology. We present a vision: using secure coprocessors to establish trusted co-servers at Web servers and moving sensitive computations inside these co-servers. We present a prototype implementation of this vision that scales to realistic workloads. Finally, we validate this approach by building a simple E-voting application on top of our prototype.

From our experience, we conclude that this approach provides a practical and effective way to enhance the security of Web servers against insider attack.

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   Shan Jiang, Sean Smith, and Kazuhiro Minami, "Securing Web Servers against Insider Attack." Dartmouth Computer Science Technical Report TR2001-410, July 2001.

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