Privacy-preserving virtual machine checkpointing mechanism
by Mikhail I. Gofman; Ruiqi Luo; Chad Wyszynski; Yaohui Hu; Ping Yang; Kartik Gopalan
International Journal of Cloud Computing (IJCC), Vol. 3, No. 3, 2014

Abstract: Virtual machines (VMs) have been widely adopted in cloud platforms to improve server consolidation and reduce operating costs. VM checkpointing is used to capture a persistent snapshot of a running VM and to later restore the VM to a previous state. Although VM checkpointing eases system administration, such as in recovering from a VM crash or undoing a previous VM activity, it can also increase the risk of exposing users' confidential data. This is because the checkpoint may store a VM's physical memory pages and disk contents that contain confidential data such as clear text passwords and credit card numbers. This paper presents the design and implementation of SPARC, a Security and Privacy AwaRe virtual machine Checkpointing mechanism. SPARC enables users to selectively exclude users' confidential data within a VM from being checkpointed. We describe the design challenges in effectively tracking and excluding process-specific memory and disk contents from the checkpoint file for a VM running on the commodity Linux operating system. We also present techniques to track process dependencies due to inter-process communication and to account for such dependencies in SPARC.

Online publication date: Sun, 14-Sep-2014

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