On-demand bootstrapping mechanism for isolated cryptographic operations on commodity accelerators

Yonggon Kim, Ohmin Kwon, Jinsoo Jang, Seongwook Jin, Hyeongboo Baek, Brent Byunghoon Kang, Hyunsoo Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


General-Purpose computing on a Graphics Processing Unit (GPGPU) involves leveraging commodity GPUs as massively parallel processing units. GPGPU is an emerging computing paradigm for high-performance and data-intensive computations such as cryptographic operations. Although GPGPU is an attractive solution for accelerating modern cryptographic operations, the security challenges that stem from utilizing commodity GPUs remain an unresolved problem. In this paper, we present an On-demand Bootstrapping Mechanism for Isolated cryptographic operations (OBMI). OBMI transforms commodity GPUs into a securely isolated processing core for various cryptographic operations while maintaining cost-effective computations. By leveraging System Management Mode (SMM), a privileged execution mode provided by x86 architectures, OBMI implements a program and a secret key into the GPU such that they are securely isolated during the acceleration of cryptographic operations, even in the presence of compromised kernels. Our approach does not require an additional hardware-abstraction layer such as a hypervisor or micro-kernel, and it does not entail modifying the GPU driver. An evaluation of the proposed OBMI demonstrated that even adversaries with kernel privileges cannot gain access to the secret key, and it also showed that the proposed mechanism incurs negligible performance degradation for both the CPU and GPU.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalComputers and Security
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Cryptographic key protection
  • GPU security
  • SMM
  • Secure systems
  • Trusted computing technology
  • Trustworthy execution


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