Software-based microarchitectural attacks

  • 1 Graz University of Technology, Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications, Inffeldgasse 16a, Graz, Austria
Daniel Gruss
  • Corresponding author
  • Graz University of Technology, Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications, Inffeldgasse 16a, 8010, Graz, Austria
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  • Daniel Gruss studied Computer Science at Graz University of Technology. In 2017, he finished his PhD with distinction in less than 3 years. He has been involved in teaching operating system undergraduate courses since 2010. Daniel’s research focuses on software-based side-channel attacks that exploit timing differences in hardware and operating systems. He implemented the first remote fault attack running in a website, known as Rowhammer.js. He frequently speaks at top international venues, such as Black Hat, Usenix Security, IEEE S&P, ACM CCS, Chaos Communication Congress, and others. His research team was one of the teams that found the Meltdown and Spectre bugs published in early 2018.
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Modern processors are highly optimized systems where every single cycle of computation time matters. Many optimizations depend on the data that is being processed. Microarchitectural attacks leak this data (side channels) or exploit physical imperfections to take control of the entire system (fault attacks). In my thesis (D. Gruss. Software-based Microarchitectural Attacks. PhD thesis, Graz University of Technology, 2017), I improved over state of the art in microarchitectural attacks and defenses in three dimensions. I cover these briefly in this summary. First, I show that attacks can be fully automated. Second, I present several novel previously unknown side channels. Third, I show that attacks can be mounted in highly restricted environments such as sandboxed JavaScript code in websites, and on any computer system including smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and commercial cloud systems. These results formed one of the corner stones for attacks like Meltdown (M. Lipp et al. Meltdown: Reading kernel memory from user space. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2018) and Spectre (P. Kocher et al. Spectre attacks: Exploiting speculative execution. In S&P, 2019) which were discovered months after the thesis was concluded.

  • 1.

    D. Gruss. Software-based Microarchitectural Attacks. PhD thesis, Graz University of Technology, 2017.

  • 2.

    D. Gruss, D. Bidner, and S. Mangard. Practical memory deduplication attacks in sandboxed JavaScript. In ESORICS, 2015.

  • 3.

    D. Gruss, J. Lettner, F. Schuster, O. Ohrimenko, I. Haller, and M. Costa. Strong and Efficient Cache Side-Channel Protection using Hardware Transactional Memory. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2017.

  • 4.

    D. Gruss, M. Lipp, M. Schwarz, R. Fellner, C. Maurice, and S. Mangard. Kaslr is dead: Long live kaslr. In ESSoS, 2017.

  • 5.

    D. Gruss, C. Maurice, A. Fogh, M. Lipp, and S. Mangard. Prefetch Side-Channel Attacks: Bypassing SMAP and Kernel ASLR. In CCS, 2016.

  • 6.

    D. Gruss, C. Maurice, and S. Mangard. Rowhammer.js: A Remote Software-Induced Fault Attack in JavaScript. In DIMVA, 2016.

  • 7.

    D. Gruss, C. Maurice, K. Wagner, and S. Mangard. Flush+Flush: A Fast and Stealthy Cache Attack. In DIMVA, 2016.

  • 8.

    D. Gruss, R. Spreitzer, and S. Mangard. Cache Template Attacks: Automating Attacks on Inclusive Last-Level Caches. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2015.

  • 9.

    R. Hund, C. Willems, and T. Holz. Practical Timing Side Channel Attacks against Kernel Space ASLR. In S&P, 2013.

  • 10.

    N. Karimi, A. K. Kanuparthi, X. Wang, O. Sinanoglu, and R. Karri. Magic: Malicious aging in circuits/cores. ACM Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization (TACO), 12(1), 2015.

  • 11.

    Y. Kim, R. Daly, J. Kim, C. Fallin, J. H. Lee, D. Lee, C. Wilkerson, K. Lai, and O. Mutlu. Flipping bits in memory without accessing them: An experimental study of DRAM disturbance errors. In ISCA, 2014.

  • 12.

    P. Kocher, J. Horn, A. Fogh, D. Genkin, D. Gruss, W. Haas, M. Hamburg, M. Lipp, S. Mangard, T. Prescher, M. Schwarz, and Y. Yarom. Spectre attacks: Exploiting speculative execution. In S&P, 2019.

  • 13.

    P. C. Kocher. Timing Attacks on Implementations of Diffe-Hellman, RSA, DSS, and Other Systems. In Crypto, 1996.

  • 14.

    M. Lipp, D. Gruss, R. Spreitzer, C. Maurice, and S. Mangard, ARMageddon: Cache Attacks on Mobile Devices. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2016.

  • 15.

    M. Lipp, M. Schwarz, D. Gruss, T. Prescher, W. Haas, S. Mangard, P. Kocher, D. Genkin, Y. Yarom, and M. Hamburg. Meltdown: Reading kernel memory from user space. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2018.

  • 16.

    C. Maurice, M. Weber, M. Schwarz, L. Giner, D. Gruss, C. Alberto Boano, S. Mangard, and K. Römer. Hello from the Other Side: SSH over Robust Cache Covert Channels in the Cloud. In NDSS, 2017.

  • 17.

    Y. Oren, V. P. Kemerlis, S. Sethumadhavan, and A. D. Keromytis. The Spy in the Sandbox: Practical Cache Attacks in JavaScript and their Implications. In CCS, 2015.

  • 18.

    D. A. Osvik, A. Shamir, and E. Tromer. Cache Attacks and Countermeasures: the Case of AES. In CT-RSA, 2006.

  • 19.

    P. Pessl, D. Gruss, C. Maurice, M. Schwarz, and S. Mangard. DRAMA: Exploiting DRAM Addressing for Cross-CPU Attacks. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2016.

  • 20.

    K. Razavi, B. Gras, E. Bosman, B. Preneel, C. Giuffrida, and H. Bos. Flip Feng Shui: Hammering a Needle in the Software Stack. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2016.

  • 21.

    M. Schwarz, D. Gruss, S. Weiser, C. Maurice, and S. Mangard. Malware Guard Extension: Using SGX to Conceal Cache Attacks. In DIMVA, 2017.

  • 22.

    M. Schwarz, C. Maurice, D. Gruss, and S. Mangard. Fantastic Timers and Where to Find Them: High-Resolution Microarchitectural Attacks in JavaScript. In FC, 2017.

  • 23.

    M. Seaborn and T. Dullien. Exploiting the DRAM rowhammer bug to gain kernel privileges. In Black Hat Briefings, 2015.

  • 24.

    K. Suzaki, K. Iijima, T. Yagi, and C. Artho. Memory Deduplication as a Threat to the Guest OS. In EuroSec, 2011.

  • 25.

    V. van der Veen, Y. Fratantonio, M. Lindorfer, D. Gruss, C. Maurice, G. Vigna, H. Bos, K. Razavi, and C. Giuffrida. Drammer: Deterministic Rowhammer Attacks on Mobile Platforms. In CCS, 2016.

  • 26.

    Y. Yarom and K. Falkner. Flush+Reload: a High Resolution, Low Noise, L3 Cache Side-Channel Attack. In USENIX Security Symposium, 2014.

  • 27.

    Y. Zhang, A. Juels, M. K. Reiter, and T. Ristenpart. Cross-Tenant Side-Channel Attacks in PaaS Clouds. In CCS, 2014.

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