ES-MPICH2: A Message Passing Interface with Enhanced Security


An increasing number of commodity clusters are connected to each other by public networks, which have become a potential threat to security sensitive parallel applications running on the clusters. To address this security issue, we developed a Message Passing Interface (MPI) implementation to preserve confidentiality of messages communicated among nodes of clusters in an unsecured network. We focus on M PI rather than other protocols, because M PI is one of the most popular communication protocols for parallel computing on clusters. Our MPI implementation-called ES-MPICH2-was built based on MPICH2 developed by the Argonne National Laboratory. Like MPICH2, ES-MPICH2 aims at supporting a large variety of computation and communication platforms like commodity clusters and high-speed networks. We integrated encryption and decryption algorithms into the MPICH2 library with the standard MPI interface and; thus, data confidentiality of MPI applications can be readily preserved without a need to change the source codes of the MPI applications. MPI-application programmers can fully configure any confidentiality services in MPICHI2, because a secured configuration file in ES-MPICH2 offers the programmers flexibility in choosing any cryptographic schemes and keys seamlessly incorporated in ES-MPICH2. We used the Sandia Micro Benchmark and Intel MPI Benchmark suites to evaluate and compare the performance of ES-MPICH2 with the original MPICH2 version. Our experiments show that overhead incurred by the confidentiality services in ES-MPICH2 is marginal for small messages. The security overhead in ES-MPICH2 becomes more pronounced with larger messages. Our results also show that security overhead can be significantly reduced in ES-MPICH2 by high-performance clusters. The executable binaries and source code of the ES-MPICH2 implementation are freely available at http://

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