Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Anjuna and secure enclaves.

What is a secure enclave?

Secure enclaves enable applications and their data to execute securely with hardware-level protection from secure computing hardware. All data is encrypted in isolated segments of memory and decrypted only inside the CPU when it’s used. The enclaved memory segments and data remain completely protected, even if the operating system, hypervisor, or root user are compromised. With the addition of enterprise enclave software, data can be fully protected across its full life cycle — at rest, in motion, and in use — from creation to retirement.

How safe are secure enclaves?

Hardware-based enclave technology is far more secure than the software solutions you are currently using. Secure enclaves are so hard to crack that security researchers are spending an enormous amount of time trying to make a name for themselves by attempting to compromise them, with little success. This is great news for enterprises because hardware vendors are now five years into this cycle, making enclave technology, if not unbreakable, certainly miles ahead of existing security approaches. As of this printing, the few vulnerabilities that have been discovered have been patched. Even these required physical access to a chip, sometimes using a probe, and thus will not pose a realistic threat to most enterprises or cloud providers.

Who is adopting secure enclaves?

Enclaves have broad industry support. Most major CPU manufacturers, such as AWS, AMD, Arm and Intel, already include enclave-enabling instruction sets coded in their chip architectures. The Azure confidential computing platform from Microsoft, AWS Nitro Enclaves, Google cloud, Baidu, Alibaba, and others are supporting this technology. More than 20 industry leaders have joined the Confidential Computing Consortium to define and promote the adoption of confidential computing by bringing to market the tools and ecosystems needed to ease the use of enclaves technologies.

How difficult is it to implement secure enclaves?

The adoption of secure enclaves is similar to the adoption of virtualization technologies. Implementing virtualization at the chip instruction level is difficult, requiring software development kits (SDKs) and custom application software modifications. With secure enterprise enclaves, just as with common virtualization systems, enclaving can be implemented transparently for applications, end-users, and operations staff using commercial software that does the heavy lifting.

How do secure enclaves work in the Cloud?

Secure enclaves work extremely well in cloud environments — whether public, private, or hybrid clouds. All major cloud vendors, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, and other global providers, support secure enclave technologies today, usually as a simple option or add-on to their existing hosts or virtual machines (VMs).

What are Anjuna Enterprise Enclaves?

Anjuna Enterprise Enclaves offer a software solution that builds on enclave-enabling technology found in CPUs from Intel® SGX , AMD SEV, and AWS Nitro Enclaves, to protect applications through hardware-level encryption.

Anjuna provides full stack protection for data and applications, as well as enterprise-class deployment and management functionality. Anjuna Enterprise Enclaves bring a “lift and shift” approach that harnesses the power of secure enclave technology without requiring changes to applications or operations. There’s no need for SDKs or code modification, making implementation transparent to existing DevOps processes. With Anjuna, there’s no need to secure or patch the host, VM, or container.

What features does Anjuna provide for enterprise deployment?

Anjuna Enterprise Enclaves work in high availability and disaster recovery scenarios. They scale in the cloud, allow access to files and applications running on different machines, and make it simple to easily update applications, firmware, and hardware. Anjuna also offers options to protect security and business continuity by integrating with existing key management solutions

How will my organization be impacted by adopting secure enclaves?

With Anjuna, adopting secure enclaves will result in few costs and many benefits for your organization. Applications need not be rewritten or re-compiled. There will be only a small impact on operations because you will need to ensure your hardware and VMs will support secure enclave technology. In some cases, you may need to integrate enclaving capabilities into your management and monitoring systems. Your enclave vendor’s out-of- the-box integrations and APIs should minimize the integration effort.

Once you have implemented enclaves, the benefits are tremendous—in terms of moving secure workloads to the cloud, protecting data from insiders and external bad actors, safeguarding customer privacy, and reducing the costs of maintaining layers of security software and processes.

What benefits should I expect to see?

Your organization should see several immediate benefits. First, you’ll see a potential dramatic reduction in your attack surface. Access to enclaved data can only come from explicit permissions granted remotely from a computing host. With attack surfaces minimized, you’ll be able to run sensitive applications securely anywhere—on premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid configurations. Data security and privacy will be enhanced transparently, as the number of people and credentials that can access data are both dramatically reduced. You’ll be able to safely run applications in untrusted or even hostile environments. All of this will simplify your security cost by reducing the need for redundant software, people, and process.

How do I get the process started?

There is no substitute for diving in and learning more about secure enclaves with a proof-of-concept project (POC). Pick an application and the associated data that you’d like to secure, either on premises or in the cloud. Next, contact us. We’ll help you quickly implement a secure enterprise enclave POC to demonstrate how simple integrating secure enclaves into your enterprise can be.

What is Intel® SGX?

Intel® Software Guard Extensions (SGX) is a set of CPU instructions that increase the security of application code and data, offering more protection from disclosure or modification. The application inside an SGX enclave is isolated from other applications running on the same system, as well as from the host operating system and the hypervisor. A secure enclave’s memory is encrypted to thwart physical attacks. Intel® SGX provides access to encryption keys that enable storing persistent data securely, so that only a secure enclave running a specific application can read it. SGX also enables remote attestation to prove to other parties that the application is running in an enclave on genuine Intel® hardware, updated with the latest microcode to ensure security.

Processors supporting Intel® SGX have been shipping since 2015. A list of hardware supporting SGX is available here.

What is AMD SEV?

AMD Secure Encryption Virtualization (SEV) is AMD’s hardware-accelerated memory encryption technology for protecting data in-use. It enables encrypting the memory of an entire virtual machine, relying on an encryption engine embedded into the memory controller, and a secure processor for key-generation and management, both part of the SOC.

SEV technology is available on AMD Epyc processors, which have been shipping since 2015. A list of hardware and processors supporting SEV can be found here.

What is data-in-use?

Data-in-use refers to the data stored in memory during application runtime. Encryption protects data-at-rest stored on disk, or data-in-motion using TLS/SSL while in transit. However, data-in-use is typically in cleartext. If such data is compromised, it can expose the encryption keys for data-at-rest or TLS/SSL certificates for data-in-motion.

What is a trusted execution environment (TEE)?

A TEE is a secure area of a processor. TEEs help to defend against attacks targeting underlying layers of the information technology stack below the application, including the operating system, hypervisor, drivers, and firmware, by providing specialized execution environments known as “enclaves” or “secure enclaves.” TEEs also address the risk of applications and data being compromised by a malicious insider or an unauthorized third-party.

What is remote attestation?

Remote attestation is a method by which a server authenticates its hardware and software configuration to a remote client. The objective of remote attestation is to enable one system (the verifier) to establish the integrity and confidentiality of another remote system. Anjuna Runtime Security provides a hardware root of trust through remote attestation, so that your workload can be guaranteed to run only in the secure environment that you designate.