Hardware/Software Co-Assurance for the Rust Programming Language Applied to Zero Trust Architecture Development

D. Hardin

ACM SIGAda Ada Letters, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 55-61, December 2022

Zero Trust Architecture requirements are of increasing importance in critical systems development. Zero trust tenets hold that no implicit trust be granted to assets based on their physical or network location. Zero Trust development focuses on authentication, authorization, and shrinking implicit trust zones to the most granular level possible, while maintaining availability and minimizing authentication latency. Performant, high-assurance cryptographic primitives are thus central to successfully realizing a Zero Trust Architecture. The Rust programming language has garnered significant interest and use as a modern, type-safe, memory-safe, and potentially formally analyzable programming language. Our interest in Rust particularly stems from its potential as a hardware/software co-assurance language for developing Zero Trust Architectures. We describe a novel environment enabling Rust to be used as a High-Level Synthesis (HLS) language, suitable for secure and performant Zero Trust application development. Many incumbent HLS languages are a subset of C, and inherit many of the well-known security shortcomings of that language. A Rust-based HLS brings a single modern, type-safe, memory-safe, high-assurance development language for both hardware and software. To study the benefits of this approach, we crafted a Rust HLS subset, and developed a frontend to the hardware/software co-assurance toolchain due to Russinoff and colleagues at Arm, used primarily for floatingpoint hardware formal verification. This allows us to leverage a number of existing hardware/software co-assurance tools with a minimum investment of time and effort. In this paper, we describe our Rust subset, detail our prototype toolchain, and describe the implementation, performance analysis, formal verification and validation of representative Zero Trust algorithms and data structures written in Rust, emphasizing cryptographic primitives and common data structures.