Saturday, June 12, 2010

Notes on TIW 2010: Q & A with Boris Balacheff of HP Labs & Ron Perez of AMD Articulate the TIW Vision

Notes on TIW 2010: Q & A with Boris Balacheff of HP Labs & Ron Perez of AMD Articulate the TIW Vision

By Richard Power

What do you see as the purpose and significance of TIW?

Ron Perez, AMD: “Cybersecurity education is increasingly recognized as a critical requirement at every level of the public and private sector. You have to look no further than the White House and its Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, which calls for expanded cybersecurity education. The focus of TIW is on education, cybersecurity education. We explore and introduce students and participants from both industry and government to the existing body of research and solution building blocks in the trusted infrastructure space, as well as the significant challenges that remain to be solved. The goal is of course is to spread knowledge and encourage further research and development in this very important area which includes everything from securing your personal computing devices all the way to securing the critical infrastructure which provides services to billions of people and is increasingly the foundation on which national economies depend. The significance of this event will ultimately be measured in the reliability and resiliency of our information technology infrastructure, and our ability to use technology to serve our needs and make our lives better and safer.”

Boris Balacheff, HP Labs: "The Trusted Infrastructure Workshop (TIW) is intended as an open collaboration, education and innovation platform to bring together researchers and expert technologists from across industry, academia, and government alike. Research in Trusted Infrastructure is key to addressing today's need for information system security that we can trust in a global connected world. But one major challenge in this field lies in the interdisciplinary nature of the research involved to truly advance our ability to build secure, manageable and assured IT infrastructure solutions: from distributed systems to software engineering and software assurance, from hardware architectures to operating systems design, from information management to network design, from user studies to man-machine interface design, the field of trusted infrastructure research requires expertise from across the traditional computing community. It has been a very rich experience to found TIW with CyLab and other partners, and I am very excited to see it flourish. HP Labs Systems Security Lab is committed to rising to these challenges for trusted infrastructure innovation, and my involvement in founding the European Trusted Infrastructure summer school (ETISS -, and now the TIW, reflect that commitment.”

How would you articulate the big issues that TIW 2010 addressed?

Perez: “Although we have been working in this problem space for decades, there remain many significant security related challenges to be addressed. The ability to establish trust in computers which you do not control and sometimes cannot even see is central to addressing many of these challenges. Whether it is having confidence in the security and privacy of data that is stored or processed in the cloud, the security and privacy of your own medical records and financial accounts, or securely interacting and conducting business with remote colleagues and businesses over the internet, establishing and maintaining trust that these systems are secure and perform only the functions for which they were designed is critical for continued progress and prosperity.”

Could you give me a brief description of the concept and format of the lab portions of the workshop?

Balacheff: “A challenge for TIW is to cater to multiple constituencies, and be attractive to both graduate students, researcher, and expert technologists. I think that TIW, like ETISS, are unique in the way that they offer a mix of research workshops, birds of a feather sessions, advanced lectures, as well as hands-on practical labs in a very focused week. Our goal is to support and bring together experts and newcomers in the different research domains whose collaboration are key to Trusted Infrastructure innovation. After five years of ETISS summer schools, and the second year of running the TIW workshop, I am excited to see the community come together and open collaboration in research develop between academia and industry around those events."

Perez: “TIW is designed to introduce participants to wide range of research and technologies encompassing the entire information technology space in a one week immersive setting. This includes exploration of security for the hardware and software stacks of common computing systems as well as the interaction of those systems in a distributed environment. We include lectures from leading researchers and technologists in various fields including secure hardware, storage, networking, operating systems, virtualization and cloud computing. We conduct laboratory exercises with existing technology building blocks, designed to give participants hands-on experience with existing technologies. We also have several sessions set aside to discuss challenges and promising research in a format that includes short presentations and interactive panel discussions designed to stimulate the workshop participants and encourage them to explore on their own after the workshop. And finally, we provide an environment where students from over twenty five different educational institutions can meet, get to know, and exchange ideas with each other as well as with many others from various companies and government agencies. It is our hope that the networks and relationships formed or started at TIW will result in innovative breakthroughs down the road.

What do you think is/are the most important take-away(s)from this workshop?

Perez: There are many important take-aways from this workshop, so it's difficult to identify the most important. For example, it's important that the students and other participants know that industry and government care about research and development that advances progress in this very critical area. It's important that they understand the bigger picture and how their own interests and research fits into the overall goals. It's important for them to know that the research opportunity space is large and growing, and there is plenty of room for them to make a significant difference and have positive impact on the current state. And it's important for them to know about the existing body of knowledge so that their own research leverages the work of others that came before them and they don't have to spend valuable time and effort re-inventing the wheel or discovering principles that are already well understood by other communities.”