Trustworthy and low-power computing at the limits of digital abstraction

Mastooreh (Negin) Salajegheh, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Host: Avi Rubin

It is challenging to write software that fits the energy budget of low-power devices, but it is even more difficult to preserve the security and sanity of the system at the same time.

Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of low-power embedded devices with a power range of few milliwatts to microwatts. The capabilities of the embedded systems continue to improve dramatically as their size shrinks; however, improvements in battery density and energy harvesting have failed to mimic a Moore’s law. Thus, energy remains a formidable bottleneck for trustworthy and low-power embedded computing. Instead of trying to create hardware with ideal energy proportionality, my research explores the effectiveness of software techniques that bend digital abstractions in order to reduce energy consumption while protecting program security and semantics.

My talk will cover three research contributions that unleash energy otherwise squandered on communication, storage, and time keeping:

  1. TARDIS [USENIX Security'12], which provides a trustworthy notion of time to low-power systems without clocks by exploiting the decay properties of SRAM,
  2. CCCP [USENIX Security'09], which offers an energy-efficient storage alternative to the local non-volatile storage by relying on cryptographic backscatter radio communication,
  3. Half-Wits [USENIX FAST'11], which allows for operating an embedded system at below-spec supply voltages in order to reduce energy consumption while maintaining storage reliability using software-only coding algorithms.

Speaker Biography

Mastooreh (Negin) Salajegheh is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Virginia working with Kevin Skadron. She received her Ph.D. degree in 2012 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, under the supervision of Kevin Fu. During her internship with Jie Liu’s Sensing and Energy Research Group (SERG) at Microsoft Research, Negin researched trustworthy operation of Near Field Communication (NFC). She has received the Outstanding Synthesis Project award (Sponsored by Yahoo) for her work on probabilistic storage. Negin was one of the top four finalists of UMass Innovation Challenge Award. Her research focuses on low-power and trustworthy operation of pervasive computers, energy management, and probabilistic storage. Her research goal is to make low-power computers (specially batteryless ones) more secure and energy-aware. During her PhD studies, Negin served as the co-chair of CS Women group at UMass Amherst for a year and she has attended several outreach events for girls in IT.