Leveraging hardware transactional memory for cache side-channel defenses

Sanchuan Chen, Fangfei Liu, Zeyu Mi, Yinqian Zhang, Ruby B. Lee, Haibo Chen, Xiao Feng Wang

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

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

A program's use of CPU caches may reveal its memory access pattern and thus leak sensitive information when the program performs secret-dependent memory accesses. In recent studies, it has been demonstrated that cache side-channel attacks that extract secrets by observing the victim program's cache uses can be conducted under a variety of scenarios, among which the most concerning are cross-VM attacks and those against SGX enclaves. In this paper, we propose a mechanism that leverages hardware transactional memory (HTM) to enable software programs to defend themselves against various cache side-channel attacks. We observe that when the HTM is implemented by retrofitting cache coherence protocols, as is the case of Intel's Transactional Synchronization Extensions, the cache interference that is necessary in cache side-channel attacks will inevitably terminate hardware transactions. We provide a systematic analysis of the security requirements that a software-only solution must meet to defeat cache attacks, propose a software design that leverages HTM to satisfy these requirements and devise several optimization techniques in our implementation to reduce performance impact caused by transaction aborts. The empirical evaluation suggests that the performance overhead caused by the HTM-based solution is low.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationASIACCS 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages601-608
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781450355766
DOIs
StatePublished - May 29 2018
Event13th ACM Symposium on Information, Computer and Communications Security, ASIACCS 2018 - Incheon, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Jun 4 2018Jun 8 2018

Publication series

NameASIACCS 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security

Other

Other13th ACM Symposium on Information, Computer and Communications Security, ASIACCS 2018
CountryKorea, Republic of
CityIncheon
Period6/4/186/8/18

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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