Sky Security Seminar: Shweta Shinde (ETH Zurich) – “TEEtime: A New Architecture for Bringing Sovereignty to Smartphones”

Speaker: Shweta Shinde
Location: Soda 465H
Date: June 28, 2023
Time: 11am-12pm PST

Title: TEEtime: A New Architecture for Bringing Sovereignty to Smartphones

Abstract: Modern smartphones are complex systems in which control over phone resources is exercised by phone manufacturers, operators, OS vendors, and users. These parties have diverse and often competing interests. Barring some exceptions, users, including developers, entrust their security and privacy to OS vendors (Android and iOS) and need to accept the constraints they impose. The manufacturers protect their firmware and peripherals from the OS by executing in the highest privilege and by leveraging dedicated CPUs and TEEs. OS vendors further try to protect their ecosystems by virtualization but still need to trust the highest privilege code deployed by manufacturers. This division of control over the phone is not ideal for OS vendors but is primarily disadvantageous for the users, who cannot freely install and isolate their applications, or flexibly configure their access to peripherals.
In this talk, we present a new smartphone architecture that maintains compatibility with the existing smartphone ecosystem but allows the balancing of the control that users, OS vendors, and manufacturers exert over the phones. Our architecture, named TEEtime, is based on ARMv8 and implements novel, TEE-based, resource and interrupt isolation mechanisms that allow the users to flexibly choose which resources (including peripherals) to dedicate to different isolated domains, namely, to legacy OSes and to user’s proprietary software. We show the feasibility of our design by implementing a prototype of TEEtime on ARM platforms to showcase case studies and compatibility with the existing smartphone ecosystem.

Bio: Shweta Shinde is an assistant professor at ETH Zurich, where she leads the Secure and Trustworthy Systems Group. Her research is broadly at the intersection of trusted computing, system security, program analysis, and formal verification. Shweta received her Ph.D. from the National University of Singapore where she was awarded the Dean’s Graduate Research Excellence Award after which she was a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley.