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In this Google Cloud Lab, you build a simple example enclave. The example demonstrates initializing an enclave, passing arguments to code running inside the enclave, encrypting those arguments inside the enclave, and returning the processed results. Even though this is a very simple example, it demonstrates the basic functionality provided by Asylo and the steps required to utilize that functionality.
What is Asylo?
Asylo is an open-source framework for developing enclave applications. It defines an abstract enclave model that can be mapped transparently onto a variety of enclave technologies (a.k.a., enclave backends). Asylo provides a software-development platform that supports a growing range of use cases. In a sense, the enclave backend can be viewed as a special-purpose embedded computer running inside a conventional machine, with Asylo providing the necessary runtime for that embedded computer.
What is an enclave?
On traditional systems, the Operating System (OS) kernel has unrestricted access to a machine's hardware resources. The kernel typically exposes most of its access permissions to a root user without any restrictions. Additionally, a root user can extend or modify the kernel on a running system. As a result, if an attacker can execute code with root privileges, they can compromise every secret and bypass every security policy on the machine. For instance, if an attacker obtains root access on a machine that manages TLS keys, those keys may be compromised.
Enclaves are an emerging technology paradigm that changes this equation. An enclave is a special execution context where code can run protected from even the OS kernel, with the guarantee that even a user running with root privileges cannot extract the enclave's secrets or compromise its integrity. Such protections are enabled through hardware isolation technologies such as Intel SGX or ARM TrustZone, or even through additional software layers such as a hypervisor. These technologies enable new forms of isolation beyond the usual kernel/user-space separation.
New security features are exciting for developers building secure applications, but in practice there is a big gap between having a raw capability and developing applications that leverage that capability. Building useful enclave applications requires tools to construct, load, and operate enclaves. Doing useful work in an enclave requires programming-language support and access to core platform libraries.
Note: you will have timed access to the online environment. You will need to complete the lab within the allotted time....
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