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Security Research: Technical Paper Round-Up


A number of hardware security-related technical papers were presented at recent conferences, including the August 2022 USENIX Security Symposium and IEEE’s International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST). Topics include side-channel attacks and defenses (including on-chip mesh interconnect attacks), heterogeneous attacks on cache hierarchies, rowhammer attacks and mitig... » read more

Hertzbleed: A New Family of Side-Channel Attacks–Root Case: Dynamic Frequency Scaling


  New research paper titled "Hertzbleed: Turning Power Side-Channel Attacks Into Remote Timing Attacks on x86" from researchers at UT Austin, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and University of Washington can be found here. (preprint). This paper will be presented at the 31st USENIX Security Symposium (Boston, 10–12 August 2022). Summary explanation of the Hertzbleed ... » read more

Security Research Bits


A number of hardware security-related technical papers were presented at the August 2021 USENIX Security Symposium. The organization provides open access research, and the presentation slides and papers are free to the public. Topics include side-channel attacks and defenses, embedded security, hardware security tokens, and more. Here are some highlights with associated links:   [tab... » read more

PTAuth: Temporal Memory Safety via Robust Points-to Authentication


Authors: Reza Mirzazade Farkhani, Mansour Ahmadi, and Long Lu, Northeastern University Abstract: "Temporal memory corruptions are commonly exploited software vulnerabilities that can lead to powerful attacks. Despite significant progress made by decades of research on mitigation techniques, existing countermeasures fall short due to either limited coverage or overly high overhead. Further... » read more

Database Reconstruction from Noisy Volumes: A Cache Side-Channel Attack on SQLite


Authors: Aria Shahverdi, University of Maryland; Mahammad Shirinov, Bilkent University; Dana Dachman-Soled, University of Maryland Abstract: "We demonstrate the feasibility of database reconstruction under a cache side-channel attack on SQLite. Specifically, we present a Flush+Reload attack on SQLite that obtains approximate (or "noisy") volumes of range queries made to a private database... » read more

SMASH: Synchronized Many-sided Rowhammer Attacks from JavaScript


Authors: Finn de Ridder, ETH Zurich and VU Amsterdam; Pietro Frigo, Emanuele Vannacci, Herbert Bos, and Cristiano Giuffrida, VU Amsterdam; Kaveh Razavi, ETH Zurich Abstract: "Despite their in-DRAM Target Row Refresh (TRR) mitigations, some of the most recent DDR4 modules are still vulnerable to many-sided Rowhammer bit flips. While these bit flips are exploitable from native code, tri... » read more

Automatic Extraction of Secrets from the Transistor Jungle using Laser-Assisted Side-Channel Attacks


Abstract:  "The security of modern electronic devices relies on secret keys stored on secure hardware modules as the root-of-trust (RoT). Extracting those keys would break the security of the entire system. As shown before, sophisticated side-channel analysis (SCA) attacks, using chip failure analysis (FA) techniques, can extract data from on-chip memory cells. However, since the chip's... » read more

On the Design and Misuse of Microcoded (Embedded) Processors — A Cautionary Note


Abstract:  "Today's microprocessors often rely on microcode updates to address issues such as security or functional patches. Unfortunately, microcode update flexibility opens up new attack vectors through malicious microcode alterations. Such attacks share many features with hardware Trojans and have similar devastating consequences for system security. However, due to microcode's opaq... » read more

Usability of Authenticity Checks for Hardware Security Tokens


Abstract:  "The final responsibility to verify whether a newly purchased hardware security token (HST) is authentic and unmodified lies with the end user. However, recently reported attacks on such tokens suggest that users cannot take the security guarantees of their HSTs for granted, even despite widely deployed authenticity checks. We present the first comprehensive market review eva... » read more