Self Securing Storage

The compromise independence of self-securing storage. The storage interface provides
a physical boundary between a storage server and client OSes. Note that this same
picture works for block protocols, such as SCSI or IDE/ATA, and distributed file system
protocols such as NFS or CIFS.

Self-securing storage is an exciting new technology for enhancing intrusion survival by enabling the storage device to safeguard data even when the client OS is compromised. It capitalizes on the fact that storage servers (whether file servers, disk array controllers, or even IDE disks) run separate software on separate hardware. This opens the door to server-embedded security that cannot be disabled by any software (even the OS) running on client systems as shown in the figure above. Of course, such servers have a narrow view of system activity, so they cannot distinguish legitimate users from clever impostors. But, from behind the thin storage interface, a self-securing storage server can actively look for suspicious behavior, retain an audit log of all storage requests, and prevent both destruction and undetectable tampering of stored data. The latter goals are achieved by retaining all versions of all data; instead of over-writing old data when a write command is issued, the storage server simply creates a new version and keeps both. Together with the audit log, the server-retained versions represent a complete history of system activity from the storage system’s point of view.



Greg Ganger


Greg Economou


Garth Goodson
Adam Pennington
Craig Soules
John Strunk


  • The Safety and Liveness Properties of a Protocol Family for Versatile Survivable Storage Infrastructures. Garth R. Goodson, Jay J. Wylie, Gregory R. Ganger, Michael K. Reiter. Carnegie Mellon University Parallel Data Laboratory Technical Report CMU-PDL-03-105. March 2004.
    Abstract / Postscript [922K] / PDF [227K]

  • Efficient Consistency for Erasure-coded Data via Versioning Servers. Garth R. Goodson, Jay J. Wylie, Gregory R. Ganger, Michael K. Reiter. Carnegie Mellon University Technical Report CMU-CS-03-127, April 2003.
    Abstract / Postscript [290K] / PDF [160K]

  • Storage-based Intrusion Detection: Watching Storage Activity For Suspicious Behavior
    Adam Pennington, John Strunk, John Griffin, Craig Soules, Garth Goodson & Greg Ganger. 12th USENIX Security Symposium, Washington, D.C., Aug 4-8, 2003. Also available as Carnegie Mellon University Technical Report CMU-CS-02-179, September 2002.
    Abstract / Postscript [727K] / PDF [138K]

  • Metadata Efficiency in a Comprehensive Versioning File System. Craig A. N. Soules, Garth R. Goodson, John D. Strunk, Gregory R. Ganger. 2nd USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies, San Francisco, CA, Mar 31 - Apr 2, 2003. Also available as CMU SCS Technical Report CMU-CS-02-145, May 2002.
    Abstract / Postscript [817K] / PDF [178K]

  • Intrusion Detection, Diagnosis, and Recovery with Self-Securing Storage. John D. Strunk, Garth R. Goodson, Adam G. Pennington, Craig A.N. Soules, Gregory R. Ganger. CMU SCS Technical Report CMU-CS-02-140, May 2002.
    Abstract / Postscript [1.1M] / PDF [119K]

  • Self-Securing Storage: Protecting Data in Compromised Systems. Strunk, J.D., Goodson, G.R., Scheinholtz, M.L., Soules, C.A.N. and Ganger, G.R. Appears in Proc. of the 4th Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (San Diego, CA, 23-25 October 2000), pages 165-180. USENIX Association, 2000.
    Abstract / Postscript [345K] / PDF [294K]