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  1. null (Ed.)
  2. We describe Swivel, a new compiler framework for hardening WebAssembly (Wasm) against Spectre attacks. Outside the browser, Wasm has become a popular lightweight, in-process sandbox and is, for example, used in production to isolate different clients on edge clouds and function-as-a-service platforms. Unfortunately, Spectre attacks can bypass Wasm's isolation guarantees. Swivel hardens Wasm against this class of attacks by ensuring that potentially malicious code can neither use Spectre attacks to break out of the Wasm sandbox nor coerce victim code—another Wasm client or the embedding process—to leak secret data.
  3. The constant-time discipline is a software-based countermeasure used for protecting high assurance cryptographic implementations against timing side-channel attacks. Constant-time is effective (it protects against many known attacks), rigorous (it can be formalized using program semantics), and amenable to automated verification. Yet, the advent of micro-architectural attacks makes constant-time as it exists today far less useful. This paper lays foundations for constant-time programming in the presence of speculative and out-of-order execution. We present an operational semantics and a formal definition of constant-time programs in this extended setting. Our semantics eschews formalization of microarchitectural features (that are instead assumed under adversary control), and yields a notion of constant-time that retains the elegance and tractability of the usual notion. We demonstrate the relevance of our semantics in two ways: First, by contrasting existing Spectre-like attacks with our definition of constant-time. Second, by implementing a static analysis tool, Pitchfork, which detects violations of our extended constant-time property in real world cryptographic libraries.
  4. This paper presents Packet Chasing, an attack on the network that does not require access to the network, and works regardless of the privilege level of the process receiving the packets. A spy process can easily probe and discover the exact cache location of each buffer used by the network driver. Even more useful, it can discover the exact sequence in which those buffers are used to receive packets. This then enables packet frequency and packet sizes to be monitored through cache side channels. This allows both covert channels between a sender and a remote spy with no access to the network, as well as direct attacks that can identify, among other things, the web page access patterns of a victim on the network. In addition to identifying the potential attack, this work proposes a software-based short-term mitigation as well as a light-weight, adaptive, cache partitioning mitigation that blocks the interference of I/O and CPU requests in the last-level cache.