Aerogel: Lightweight Access Control Framework for WebAssembly-Based Bare-Metal IoT Devices [Conference Paper]

NESL Technical Report #: 2021-12-515


Abstract: Application latency requirements, privacy, and security concerns have naturally pushed computing onto smartphone and IoT devices in a decentralized manner. In response to these demands, researchers have developed micro-runtimes for WebAssembly (Wasm) on IoT devices to enable streaming applications to a runtime that can run the target binaries that are independent of the device. However, the migration of Wasm and the associated security research has neglected the urgent needs of access control on bare-metal, memory management unit (MMU)-less IoT devices that are sensing and actuating upon the physical environment. This paper presents Aerogel, an access control framework that addresses security gaps between the bare-metal IoT devices and the Wasm execution environment concerning access control for sensors, actuators, processor energy usage, and memory usage. In particular, we treat the runtime as a multi-tenant environment, where each Wasm-based application is a tenant. We leverage the inherent sandboxing mechanisms of Wasm to enforce the access control policies to sensors and actuators without trusting the bare-metal operating system. We evaluate our approach on a representative IoT development board: a cortexM4 based development board (nRF52840). Our results show that Aerogel can effectively enforce compute resource and peripheral access control policies while introducing as little as 0.19% to 1.04% runtime overhead and consuming only 18.8% to 45.9% extra energy.

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Publication Forum: The Sixth ACM/IEEE Symposium on Edge Computing (SEC' 21)

Date: 2021-12-14

Place: San Jose, CA, USA

Publisher: ACM/IEEE

NESL Document?: Yes

Document category: Conference Paper