HybCache: Hybrid Side-Channel-Resilient Caches for Trusted Execution Environments

20 Sep 2019  ·  Dessouky Ghada, Frassetto Tommaso, Sadeghi Ahmad-Reza ·

Modern multi-core processors share cache resources for maximum cache utilization and performance gains. However, this leaves the cache vulnerable to side-channel attacks, where timing differences in shared cache behavior are exploited to infer information on the victim's execution patterns, ultimately leaking private information... The root cause for these attacks is mutually distrusting processes sharing cache entries and accessing them in a deterministic manner. Various defenses against cache side-channel attacks have been proposed. However, they either degrade performance significantly, impose impractical restrictions, or can only defeat certain classes of these attacks. More importantly, they assume that side-channel-resilient caches are required for the entire execution workload and do not allow to selectively enable the mitigation only for the security-critical portion of the workload. We present a generic mechanism for a flexible and soft partitioning of set-associative caches and propose a hybrid cache architecture, called HybCache. HybCache can be configured to selectively apply side-channel-resilient cache behavior only for isolated execution domains, while providing the non-isolated execution with conventional cache behavior, capacity and performance. An isolation domain can include one or more processes, specific portions of code, or a Trusted Execution Environment. We show that, with minimal hardware modifications and kernel support, HybCache can provide side-channel-resilient cache only for isolated execution with a performance overhead of 3.5-5%, while incurring no performance overhead for the remaining execution workload. We provide a simulator-based and hardware implementation of HybCache to evaluate the performance and area overheads, and show how it mitigates typical access-based and contention-based cache attacks. read more

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Cryptography and Security

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