Cyber protection by dumbing down user-owned devices and leveraging edge clouds

Malathi Veeraraghavan, Xiao Lin and Dan Kilper
University of Virginia, Virginia, United States

Keywords: Cyber protection, edge clouds, high-speed networks, dumb devices

This paper proposes changing the trend of making all things ``smart'' by embedding processors into things, and further proposes dumbing down current user-owned personal computing devices. Specifically, we propose an architecture called Cyber Protected Edge Cloud with Dumb User Devices (CPEC-DUD) to address the mounting challenges of cyber attacks. The CPEC-DUD architecture vastly reduces the attack surface since users' dumb I/O devices would have no processor and no operating system, and hence cannot be compromised and used in botnets. User-owned dumb I/O devices such as Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) terminals, printers, cameras, microphones, speakers, IoT devices, etc., are connected to an edge cloud over existing Ethernet/WiFi enterprise networks. Users run applications hosted directly on the edge-cloud servers, or in virtual machines. Centralizing the processing hardware and software into the edge cloud allows trained technical professionals to maintain software with best practices, and more importantly, detonate email attachments or downloaded files in separate VMs before allowing users access. A dedicated hardware design is proposed to implement the new protocols required for I/O signal transfers over the Ethernet/WiFi enterprise networks without TCP/IP (since the DUDs do not have a processor), video compression, and encryption for protecting user data.