Shaolei Ren

Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside

Oct. 13th, 2017, 11am-12pm, DBH 6011


Power Attacks in Multi-Tenant Data Centers: Threat and Defense


The explosion of Internet of Things and cloud computing applications has generated a huge demand for multi-tenant colocation data centers everywhere, extending the Internet edge beyond the traditional hub locations. As one would expect, securing data centers against cyber attacks is extremely important, and so is providing a reliable power supply to servers. While the threat of cyber attacks has been well recognized and extensively researched, data center power security has long been taken for granted and heavily relied on infrastructure robustness and redundancies.

In this talk, we present our recent research on an emerging threat faced by multi-tenant data centers --- well-timed malicious power loads, or power attacks. We first show that, despite safeguards in place, the current way that power infrastructure is managed in multi-tenant data centers is highly vulnerable to power attacks launched by malicious tenants (i.e., attackers). Next, we discover two types of physical networks in a multi-tenant data center --- thermal network and acoustic network --- which result from the co-location of multiple tenants in a shared data center facility and hence physically interconnect these tenants. More importantly, a malicious tenant can extract information about tenants' runtime power usage out of the thermal/acoustic network and launch well-timed power attacks, compromising the data center availability and leading to power outages. Finally, we highlight a set of defense strategies that data center operators can leverage to secure the power infrastructure against power attacks.

Speaker Bio:

Shaolei Ren is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He received his B.E. from Tsinghua University in 2006, M.Phil. from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2008, and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012. His research interests include networking, cloud computing, data centers, and network economics. He received multiple Best Paper awards at various conferences, such as ACM e-Energy'16 and IEEE ICC'16 and ICC'09. He was also a recipient of the U.S. NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in 2015.