ZeroTrace: Oblivious Memory Primitives from Intel SGX

Sajin Sasy, Sergey Gorbunov, Christopher W. Fletcher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We are witnessing a confluence between applied cryptography and secure hardware systems in enabling secure cloud computing. On one hand, work in applied cryptography has enabled efficient, oblivious data-structures and memory primitives. On the other, secure hardware and the emergence of Intel SGX has enabled a low-overhead and mass market mechanism for isolated execution. By themselves these technologies have their disadvantages. Oblivious memory primitives carry high performance overheads, especially when run non-interactively. Intel SGX, while more efficient, suffers from numerous software-based side-channel attacks, high context switching costs, and bounded memory size. In this work we build a new library of oblivious memory primitives, which we call ZeroTrace. ZeroTrace is designed to carefully combine state-of-the-art oblivious RAM techniques and SGX, while mitigating individual disadvantages of these technologies. To the best of our knowledge, ZeroTrace represents the first oblivious memory primitives running on a real secure hardware platform. ZeroTrace simultaneously enables a dramatic speed-up over pure cryptography and protection from software-based side-channel attacks. The core of our design is an efficient and flexible block-level memory controller that provides oblivious execution against any active software adversary, and across asynchronous SGX enclave terminations. Performance-wise, the memory controller can service requests for 4 B blocks in 1.2 ms and 1 KB blocks in 3.4 ms (given a 10 GB dataset). On top of our memory controller, we evaluate Set/Dictionary/List interfaces which can all perform basic operations (e.g., get/put/insert).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication25th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2018
PublisherThe Internet Society
ISBN (Electronic)1891562495, 9781891562495
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event25th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2018 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Feb 18 2018Feb 21 2018

Publication series

Name25th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2018


Conference25th Annual Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, NDSS 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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