Repair from a chair: Computer repair as an untrusted cloud service

Lon Ingram, Ivaylo Popov, Srinath Setty, and Michael Walfish

Proceedings of the Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HotOS) 2011.

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Operating Systems, Security

Today, computer repair resembles television repair: the customer brings the computer into the shop or calls a technician (or family member) to request a visit. Yet, as indicated by a survey that we conducted, a large majority of computer repair issues involve only software. Moreover, computers are increasingly virtual machines -- which could be repaired anywhere. These observations lead us to the following vision, which we outline in this paper: let a customer ship a computer into the cloud and get software-based problems fixed asynchronously. We also outline the research needed to realize this vision. Broadly, we must protect the privacy and integrity of the customer's data from an untrusted repairer, and we must protect availability, allowing the customer to keep working during the repair.