Uncovering and Defeating Microarchitecture Attacks in Modern Processors

Safeguarding sensitive information stored in computing systems is a fast-growing concern as computers are ubiquitously used everywhere. Different from traditional software-level attacks, recent adversarial developments in side channels (e.g., Spectre and Meltdown) have demonstrated the practicality of exfiltrating sensitive data through directly exploiting security vulnerabilities in hardware. These attacks are extremely dangerous since they can bypass existing software-based protections and affect billions of commodity machines. Among the several forms of information leakage, timing channels manifest by exploiting the access timings of shared hardware resources that are not designed or even intended for communication. Such attacks are expected to be especially devastating in the cloud computing infrastructure as they allow adversarial users to break the underlying security primitives.

In this project, we will comprehensively investigate the information leakage attack surface in the microarchitecture design of modern processors with the goal of systematically uncovering new and unknown side channel attack vectors (both active and passive). We will identify the key causes of the unveiled side channel exploit and design low-cost and effective architectural and system-level defensive mechanisms to defeat these attacks.

Publications


2021

Leaking Secrets through Modern Branch Predictor in the Speculative World
Md Hafizul Islam Chowdhuryy and Fan Yao
In IEEE Transactions on Computers (TC)
2021

2020

BranchSpec: Information Leakage Attacks Exploiting Speculative Branch Instruction Executions,
Md Hafizul Islam Chowdhuryy, Hang Liu and Fan Yao
In IEEE International Conference on Computer Design (ICCD)
2020

2019

Leveraging Cache Management Hardware for Practical Defense against Cache Timing Channel Attacks
Fan Yao, Hongyu Fang, Milos Doroslovacki and Guru Venkataramani
In IEEE Micro
2019
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COTSknight: Practical Defense against Cache Timing Channel Attacks using Cache Monitoring and Partitioning Technologies
Fan Yao, Hongyu Fang, Milos Doroslovacki and Guru Venkataramani
In IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST)
2019

Are Crossbar Memories Secure? New Security Vulnerabilities in Crossbar Memories
Vamsee Reddy Kommareddy, Baogang Zhang, Fan Yao, Rickard Ewetz, and Amro Awad
In IEEE Computer Architecture Letters (CAL)
2019
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