NeuroHammer Attacks on ReRAM-Based Memories


A new technical paper titled “NVM-Flip: Non-Volatile-Memory BitFlips on the System Level” was published by researchers at Ruhr-University Bochum, University of Duisburg-Essen, and Robert Bosch.

“Emerging non-volatile memories (NVMs) are promising candidates to substitute conventional memories due to their low access latency, high integration density, and non-volatility. These superior properties stem from the memristor representing the centerpiece of each memory cell and is branded as the fourth fundamental circuit element. Memristors encode information in the form of its resistance by altering the physical characteristics of their filament. Hence, each memristor can store multiple bits increasing the memory density and positioning it as a potential candidate to replace DRAM and SRAM-based memories, such as caches.

However, new security risks arise with the benefits of these emerging technologies, like the recent NeuroHammer attack, which allows adversaries to deliberately flip bits in ReRAMs. While NeuroHammer has been shown to flip single bits within memristive crossbar arrays, the system-level impact remains unclear. Considering the significance of the Rowhammer attack on conventional DRAMs, NeuroHammer can potentially cause crucial damage to applications taking advantage of emerging memory technologies.

To answer this question, we introduce NVgem5, a versatile system-level simulator based on gem5. NVgem5 is capable of injecting bit-flips in eNVMs originating from NeuroHammer. Our experiments evaluate the impact of the NeuroHammer attack on main and cache memories. In particular, we demonstrate a single-bit fault attack on cache memories leaking the secret key used during the computation of RSA signatures. Our findings highlight the need for improved hardware security measures to mitigate the risk of hardware-level attacks in computing systems based on eNVMs.”

Find the technical paper here. Published June 2024.

Felix Staudigl, Jan Philipp Thoma, Christian Niesler, Karl Sturm, Rebecca Pelke, Dominik Germek, Jan Moritz Joseph, Tim Güneysu, Lucas Davi, and Rainer Leupers. 2024. NVM-Flip: Non-Volatile-Memory BitFlips on the System Level. In Proceedings of the 2024 ACM Workshop on Secure and Trustworthy Cyber-Physical Systems (SaT-CPS ’24). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1145/3643650.3658606

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