[openstack-dev] [ironic] Disk Eraser

Robert Collins robertc at robertcollins.net
Sat Jan 18 05:55:02 UTC 2014

On 18 January 2014 12:21, Chris Friesen <chris.friesen at windriver.com> wrote:
> On 01/17/2014 04:20 PM, Devananda van der Veen wrote:
>> tl;dr, We should not be recycling bare metal nodes between untrusted
>> tenants at this time. There's a broader discussion about firmware
>> security going on, which, I think, will take a while for the hardware
>> vendors to really address.
> What can the hardware vendors do?  Has anyone proposed a meaningful solution
> for the firmware issue?

So historically, for 99% of users of new machines, it's been
considered a super low risk right - they don't boot off of unknown
devices, and they aren't reusing machines across different users.
Second hand users had risks, but vendors aren't designing for the
second hand purchaser.

However more and more viruses are targeting lower and lower parts of
the boot stack (see why UEFI is so important) and there are now
multiple confirmations of hostile payloads that can live in hard disk
drive microcontrollers - and some of the NSA payloads look like they
inhabit system management bioses... - it's become clear that this is
something that is a genuine risk for all users; new users from viruses
and other malware, second hand users from the original user.

So, industry wise, I think over the next few years folk will finish
auditing their supply chain to determine what devices are at risk and
then start implementing defenses. The basic problem though is that our
entire machine architecture trusts that the rest of the machine is
trusted (e.g. device can DMA anything they want... - one previous
class of attack was compromised firewire devices - plugin, and they
would disable your screen saver without password entry.)

> Given the number of devices (NIC, GPU, storage controllers, etc.) that could
> potentially have firmware update capabilities it's not clear to me how this
> could be reliably solved.

Slowly and carefully :)


Robert Collins <rbtcollins at hp.com>
Distinguished Technologist
HP Converged Cloud

More information about the OpenStack-dev mailing list