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Intel TXT Boot Sequence

Let's look at one possible boot sequence at a medium level of detail. If you desire more details, see the book Intel Trusted Execution Technology for Server Platforms (Apress, 2013).

One quick note about error handling so that we don't have to describe it repeatedly in the following sequence: if a failure occurs at any point in the sequence, a chipset register is written with an error indication. This chipset register, TXT.ERRORCODE, is only writable by ACMs and microcode to prevent less privileged and possibly hostile code from clearing it. An error value in this register prevents a measured launch later in the boot cycle, as described shortly.

Figure 22-1 and Figure 22-2 illustrate the Intel measured launch process and how various components interact with the TPM. Figure 22-1 is a complete timeline from power-on through launching a trusted OS. This includes the SRTM before OS boot and the DRTM initiated by the OS. Figure 22-2 provides more detail about the secure launch sequence, specifically the steps taken to verify that both the platform and the system software are trusted.

Figure 22-1. Intel TXT boot timeline

Figure 22-2. Breakout of measured launch details

The boot sequence is illustrated by Figure 22-1 and consists of two stages: the SRTM stage and the DRTM stage. The SRTM stage starts with the CPU microcode and extends up to OS boot. The DRTM stage starts when the SINIT ACM is invoked and extends through OS boot.

The first part of the sequence (SRTM) starts at power-on and protects against BIOS and reset attacks:

1. Microcode: When reset is de-asserted, the microcode checks the BIOS FIT to determine where the BIOS ACM is located in the BIOS image. The microcode verifies the signature of the BIOS ACM and does some other sanity checks on the ACM. If all is well—the ACM is uncorrupted, and it's the

correct ACM—then the microcode starts the ACM running in protected CPU internal memory.

2. Startup ACM: The BIOS ACM contains a few different entry points that can be invoked by microcode or the BIOS. The Startup ACM call is invoked by microcode when the platform is powered-on or reset. This call's main function is to measure certain portions of the BIOS that must be trusted to operate correctly in order to guarantee system integrity, as well as to extend those BIOS measurements into PCR0. The regions

of BIOS to be measured are specified by entries in the FIT table which are configured by the BIOS OEM. Some critical regions of the FIT table itself as well as the reset vector and some other regions of BIOS are required to be measured, and the BIOS ACM ensures that this is the case. Other regions

of BIOS can be optionally measured, and it's up to the BIOS developer to properly configure the table to measure the correct regions of BIOS. The whole BIOS image doesn't need to be measured, and any regions of flash memory that can change under normal boot situations aren't measured, because this will cause false failures. At a minimum, to guarantee system integrity, the boot block of the BIOS must be measured—this block includes the basic system and memory initialization code. If the Startup ACM detects an error (probably indicating some sort of security issue), it sets an error code in TXT.ERRORCODE register and resets the CPU, and then the microcode directs the CPU to the reset vector. In this case, only a non-verified launch is possible. If the Startup ACM code completes successfully, the BIOS is executed.

3. BIOS continues the static chain of trust: The BIOS continues the chain of trust by measuring any additional BIOS code to PCR0 and measures other platform components to other PCRs. BIOS also creates a log of everything measured to the PCRs. All code in the BIOS trust boundary must be measured before that module executes. And before the BIOS executes any unmeasured code (code outside the BIOS trust boundary), it calls the BIOS ACM to lock the platform configuration to prevent untrusted code from altering the platform configuration. These calls to the BIOS ACM also test and perform security checks to ensure system integrity.

4. Option ROMs: Unless provided by the OEM, option ROMs are outside the trust boundary and option ROM code is measured into PCR2 while any option ROM configuration is measured into PCR3.

5. OS boot: When the BIOS completes, it boots to the OS loaded on the system. The OS is running in normal, non-verified boot mode, but it's locked and loaded to perform the DRTM phase of booting. The second part of the sequence (DRTM) starts at the GETSEC(SENTER) leaf, which is invoked by the OS or a software component running in the OS. This provides a dynamic root of trust for measurement that measures the SINIT ACM and the MLE, which is sometimes the VMM.

6. Measured launch: When the OS wants to boot into trusted mode, it executes the GETSEC(SENTER) instruction. This causes a microcode flow that verifies the SINIT ACM in a manner similar to the BIOS ACM (see steps 1 and 2), loads it, and starts executing it.

7. SINIT ACM: The SINIT ACM verifies that no other security issues have occurred by checking the TXT.ERRORCODE register. It does some hardware configuration checks for certain security issues. It then measures the trusted OS code. The ACM also includes a Launch Control Policy (LCP) engine that performs policy checks, which includes checking the measured OS code and PCRs against lists of known good values. If any checks fail in the SINIT ACM, a platform reset is performed. If all is well, the ACM performs the measured launch and the OS enters secure mode. This is referred to as the Measured Launch Environment (MLE). Measurements of the SINIT ACM, policies, and measured OS code are extended into PCR17 and 18.

8. Trusted mode: At this point, the trusted environment has been enabled, and the OS has access to Locality 2 and thus the dynamic PCRs. The trusted OS continues the dynamic chain of trust by measuring additional OS components and configuration into PCRs 18–22.

9. Applications: Local applications can use the values in PCRs to seal secrets that can only be unsealed when the platform is in that same trusted environment. For example, the OS can seal an encryption key it uses to encrypt private and privileged information. Only when the platform successfully performs the measured launch can the OS recover the key and decrypt the data. This is sometimes referred to as local attestation. Remote attestation is where external agents use the PCR values to make a trust decision—perhaps quarantining an untrusted platform while connecting trusted platforms to the production network.

10. Termination: The final stage is when the OS terminates the trusted environment. This can either shut down the platform (power-off or restart) or just exit the trusted mode, in which case the OS can re-enter it by performing another measured launch without the need to reset the platform. After the MLE shutdown, the OS no longer has Locality 2 access to the TPM.

This seems like a lot of detail, but we've actually skipped the low-level details of the Intel TXT policy, the security checks performed by the ACMs, the details of how TPM NV indices are used for communicating TXT status, and the BIOS enabling and provisioning of TXT.

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