Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis (Ph.D.)


Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Sean W. Smith


The emergent next generation of computing, the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), presents significant challenges to security, privacy, and trust. The devices commonly used in IoT scenarios are often resource-constrained with reduced computational strength, limited power consumption, and stringent availability requirements. Additionally, at least in the consumer arena, time-to-market is often prioritized at the expense of quality assurance and security. An initial lack of standards has compounded the problems arising from this rapid development. However, the explosive growth in the number and types of IoT devices has now created a multitude of competing standards and technology silos resulting in a highly fragmented threat model. Tens of billions of these devices have been deployed in consumers' homes and industrial settings. From smart toasters and personal health monitors to industrial controls in energy delivery networks, these devices wield significant influence on our daily lives. They are privy to highly sensitive, often personal data and responsible for real-world, security-critical, physical processes. As such, these internet-connected things are highly valuable and vulnerable targets for exploitation. Current security measures, such as reactionary policies and ad hoc patching, are not adequate at this scale. This thesis presents a multi-layered, defense in depth, approach to preventing and mitigating a myriad of vulnerabilities associated with the above challenges. To secure the pre-boot environment, we demonstrate a hardware-based secure boot process for devices lacking secure memory. We introduce a novel implementation of remote attestation backed by blockchain technologies to address hardware and software integrity concerns for the long-running, unsupervised, and rarely patched systems found in industrial IoT settings. Moving into the software layer, we present a unique method of intraprocess memory isolation as a barrier to several prevalent classes of software vulnerabilities. Finally, we exhibit work on network analysis and intrusion detection for the low-power, low-latency, and low-bandwidth wireless networks common to IoT applications. By targeting these areas of the hardware-software stack, we seek to establish a trustworthy system that extends from power-on through application runtime.


Originally posted in the Dartmouth College Computer Science Technical Report Series, number TR2020-879.