Adaptive caches as a defense mechanism against cache side-channel attacks

Sahan Bandara, Michel A. Kinsy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Side-channel attacks exploit architectural features of computing systems and algorithmic properties of applications executing on these systems to steal sensitive information. Cache side-channel attacks are more powerful and practical compared to other classes of side-channel attacks due to several factors, such as the ability to be mounted without physical access to the system. Some secure cache architectures have been proposed to counter side-channel attacks. However, they all incur significant performance overheads. This work explores the viability of using adaptive caches, which are conventionally used as a performance-oriented architectural feature, as a defense mechanism against cache side-channel attacks. We conduct an empirical analysis, starting from establishing a baseline for the attacker's ability to infer information regarding the memory accesses of the victim process when there is no active defense mechanism in place and the attacker is fully aware of all the cache parameters. Then, we analyze the effectiveness of the attack without complete knowledge of the cache configuration. Finally, based on the insight that the success of the attack is heavily dependent on knowledge of the cache configuration, we implement the run-time cache reconfigurations and observe their effect on the success of the attack. We observe that reconfiguring different cache parameters during a side-channel attack reduces the accuracy of the attack in detecting cache sets accessed by the victim by 44% on average, with a maximum of 90% reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationASHES 2019 - Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Workshop on Attacks and Solutions in Hardware Security Workshop
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages55-64
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450368391
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event3rd ACM Workshop on Attacks and Solutions in Hardware Security Workshop, ASHES 2019, a Post-Conference Satellite Workshop of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2019 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: Nov 15 2019 → …

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
ISSN (Print)1543-7221

Conference

Conference3rd ACM Workshop on Attacks and Solutions in Hardware Security Workshop, ASHES 2019, a Post-Conference Satellite Workshop of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period11/15/19 → …

Keywords

  • Attack mitigation
  • Cache side-channel attack
  • Reconfigurable cache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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