Going beyond the Limits of SFI: Flexible and Secure Hardware-Assisted In-Process Isolation with HFI


We introduce Hardware-assisted Fault Isolation (HFI), a simple extension to existing processors to support secure, flexible, and efficient in-process isolation. HFI addresses the limitations of existing software-based isolation (SFI) systems including: runtime overheads, limited scalability, vulnerability to Spectre attacks, and limited compatibility with existing code. HFI can seamlessly integrate with current SFI systems (e.g., WebAssembly), or directly sandbox unmodified native binaries. To ease adoption, HFI relies only on incremental changes to the data and control path of existing high-performance processors. We evaluate HFI for x86-64 using the gem5 simulator and compiler-based emulation on a mix of real and synthetic workloads.

Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS)