Secure Enclaves

Let's dive into the technical details of integrating secure enclaves into the Vistara network.


The integration of secure enclaves into the Vistara network aims to enhance security, trustlessness, and verifiability. This approach leverages technologies like Intel SGX, ARM TrustZone, and confidential computing paradigms to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of computations within the network. The key components include Spacecore Enclave Integration, Vimana CLI modifications, Hypercore Attestation Service, and a comprehensive verification protocol.

1. Hypercore implementation for Nitro Enclaves


  1. Implement Hypercore interface for secure enclaves:

    • Create a virtual machine image based on enclave with itโ€™s own kernel, memory, and CPUs. It can be based on our default image or built from scratch.

    • By default, the enclave VM does not have access to external network connectivity and persistent storage, along with vCPU and memory access restricted by applications, processes, kernel, or user.

    • Follows the same specification as other hypervisor MicroVM implementations in Hypercore

  2. Hypervisor provider interface, once implemented, it can be used with hypercore spawn command:

    type MicroVMService interface {
    	Start(ctx context.Context, vm *models.MicroVM) error
    	Stop(ctx context.Context, vm *models.MicroVM) error
    	GetRuntimeData(ctx context.Context, vm *models.MicroVM) (*types.MicroVMRuntimeData, error)
    	State(ctx context.Context, id string) (MicroVMState, error)
    	Metrics(ctx context.Context, id models.VMID) (MachineMetrics, error)
    type EnclaveService struct {
    	config *Config
    	networkSvc ports.NetworkService
    	diskSvc    ports.DiskService
    	fs         afero.Fs
    func New(cfg *Config, networkSvc ports.NetworkService, diskSvc ports.DiskService, fs afero.Fs) ports.MicroVMService {
    	// returns an instance of MicroVMService
    	return &EnclaveService{
    		config:     cfg,
    		networkSvc: networkSvc,
    		diskSvc:    diskSvc,
    		fs:         fs,
    func (c *EnclaveService) Start(ctx context.Context, vm *models.MicroVM) error
    func (c *EnclaveService) State(ctx context.Context, id string) (ports.MicroVMState, error)
    func (c *EnclaveService) Stop(ctx context.Context, vm *models.MicroVM) error
    func (c *EnclaveService) createCloudInitImage(ctx context.Context, vm *models.MicroVM, vmState State, networkInterfaceStatus *models.NetworkInterfaceStatus) error
    func (c *EnclaveService) ensureState(vmState State) error
    // create cloud-init image for saving to MicroVMRepository
    // managed by containerd

1. Spacecore Enclave Integration


  1. Modify Spacecore Codebase:

    • Integrate Intel SGX enclaves or equivalent technology.

    • Encapsulate critical functions requiring isolation within the secure enclave.

    • Implement enclave management and communication mechanisms.

  2. Create Enclave-Enabled Versions:

    • For each Spacecore repository, develop an enclave-enabled version that incorporates secure enclave integration.

// SpacecorePluginImpl contains the enclave logic
type SpacecorePluginImpl struct {
    enclave enclave.SGXEnclave // Enclave instance
    pid     int

// Start method initializes and runs the enclave
func (s *SpacecorePluginImpl) Start(ctx context.Context) (string, error) {
    log.Println("Starting Spacecore with secure enclave...")
    err := s.enclave.Initialize("/path/to/")
    if err != nil {
        return "", err
    } = s.enclave.Run()
    return "Spacecore Enclave Started", nil

// Stop method terminates the enclave
func (s *SpacecorePluginImpl) Stop(ctx context.Context) (string, error) {
    log.Println("Stopping Spacecore enclave...")
    err := s.enclave.Terminate()
    if err != nil {
        return "", err
    return "Spacecore Enclave Stopped", nil

2. Vimana CLI Modifications


  1. New Command/Flag for Attestation Mode:

    • Add a flag to run Spacecore in attested mode.

    • Update configuration file parsing for attestation parameters.

  2. Deployment Process:

    • Fetch the enclave-enabled Spacecore version from the repository.

    • Include attestation parameters in the configuration file.

    • Initiate attestation with the Hypercoreโ€™s attestation service before running the Spacecore.

Example Implementation:

// Command to start Spacecore in attested modefunc startSpacecoreCmd() *cobra.Command {
    cmd := &cobra.Command{
        Use:   "start [Spacecore]",
        Short: "Start a Spacecore in attested mode",
        RunE: func(cmd *cobra.Command, args []string) error {
            attested := viper.GetBool("attested")
            if attested {
                return startAttestedSpacecore(args[0])
            return startSpacecore(args[0])
    cmd.Flags().Bool("attested", false, "Run Spacecore in attested mode")
    viper.BindPFlag("attested", cmd.Flags().Lookup("attested"))
    return cmd

3. Hypercore Attestation Service


  1. Implement Attestation Service:

    • Manage and verify the attestation process.

    • Establish secure communication with the target enclave.

    • Verify enclave identity and integrity using attestation keys and quotes.

  2. Store Attestation Evidence:

    • Use decentralized storage for transparency and security.

  3. Provide Interface for Vimana CLI:

    • Enable initiation and retrieval of attestation results.

**Example Implementation:**
// Attestation Service implementation
type AttestationService struct {
    // Implementation details...

func (a *AttestationService) Attest(enclave enclave.SGXEnclave) (AttestationResult, error) {
    quote, err := enclave.GenerateQuote()
    if err != nil {
        return AttestationResult{}, err
    // Verify quote using Intel Attestation Service
    // Store attestation evidence
    // Return result

4. Attestation Protocol


  1. Initiate Attestation:

    • Vimana CLI sends a request to the Hypercore attestation service.

  2. Secure Communication:

    • Establish secure channel with the enclave.

  3. Generate and Verify Quote:

    • Enclave generates an attestation quote.

    • Attestation service verifies the quote using attestation keys.

  4. Store Evidence and Notify:

    • Store evidence securely.

    • Notify Vimana CLI of successful attestation.

Example Protocol Flow:

  1. Vimana CLI -> Hypercore Attestation Service: Initiate attestation for Spacecore.

  2. Attestation Service -> Enclave: Request attestation quote.

  3. Enclave -> Attestation Service: Provide attestation quote.

  4. Attestation Service -> Intel Attestation Service: Verify quote.

  5. Attestation Service -> Vimana CLI: Notify of successful attestation.

5. Continuous Monitoring and Revocation


  1. Implement Continuous Monitoring:

    • Monitor Spacecores for changes or compromises.

    • Periodic re-attestation.

  2. Revocation Process:

    • Revoke or terminate Spacecores that fail attestation or exhibit suspicious behavior.

6. Governance and Transparency


  1. Establish Governance Model:

    • Manage the attestation process transparently.

  2. Public Documentation:

    • Maintain public documentation on the attestation process, security measures, and improvements.

Tradeoffs and Considerations

  • Performance Overhead: Secure enclave integration may introduce performance overhead, which needs to be balanced with security requirements.

  • Development Complexity: Increased complexity in development and maintenance.

  • Compatibility: Ensure compatibility with multiple secure enclave technologies.

  • Scalability: Design for scalability to handle growing network load.

Integrating secure enclaves into the Vistara network enhances security, reliability, and trustworthiness. By leveraging formal verification, secure enclave technologies, and comprehensive attestation protocols, Vistara can provide a robust and verifiable execution environment for decentralized applications. These strategies align with best practices in confidential computing and foster a resilient ecosystem for developers and hardware providers.

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