In early 2018, Meltdown first showed how to read arbitrary kernel memory from user space by exploiting side-effects from transient instructions. While this attack has been mitigated through stronger isolation boundaries between user and kernel space, Meltdown inspired an entirely new class of fault-driven transient-execution attacks. Particularly, over the past year, Meltdown-type attacks have been extended to not only leak data from the L1 cache but also from various other microarchitectural structures, including the FPU register file and store buffer. In this paper, we present the ZombieLoad attack which uncovers a novel Meltdown-type effect in the processor’s fill-buffer logic. Our analysis shows that faulting load instructions (i.e., loads that have to be re-issued) may transiently dereference unauthorized destinations previously brought into the fill buffer by the current or a sibling logical CPU. In contrast to concurrent attacks on the fill buffer, we are the first to report data leakage of recently loaded and stored stale values across logical cores even on Meltdown- and MDS-resistant processors. Hence, despite Intel’s claims , we show that the hardware fixes in new CPUs are not sufficient. We demonstrate ZombieLoad’s effectiveness in a multitude of practical attack scenarios across CPU privilege rings, OS processes, virtualmore »
Medusa: Microarchitectural Data Leakage via Automated Attack Synthesis
In May 2019, a new class of transient execution attack based on Meltdown called microarchitectural data sampling (MDS), was disclosed. MDS enables adversaries to leak secrets across security domains by collecting data from shared CPU resources such as data cache, fill buffers, and store buffers. These resources may temporarily hold data that belongs to other processes and privileged contexts, which could falsely be forwarded to memory accesses of an adversary. We perform an in-depth analysis of these Meltdown-style attacks using our novel fuzzing-based approach. We introduce an analysis tool, named Transynther, which mutates the basic block of existing Meltdown variants to generate and evaluate new Meltdown subvariants. We apply Transynther to analyze modern CPUs and better understand the root cause of these attacks. As a result, we find new variants of MDS that only target specific memory operations, e.g., fast string copies. Based on our findings, we propose a new attack, named Medusa, which can leak data from implicit write-combining memory operations. Since Medusa only applies to specific operations, it can be used to pinpoint vulnerable targets. In a case study, we apply Medusa to recover the key during the RSA signing operation. We show that Medusa can leak various parts of more »
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- Proceeding of the 29th USENIX Security Symposium
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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