ARMageddon: Last-Level Cache Attacks on Mobile Devices
Moritz Lipp, Daniel Gruss, Raphael Spreitzer, Stefan Mangard

In the last 10 years cache attacks on Intel CPUs have gained increasing attention among the scientific community. More specifically, powerful techniques to exploit the cache side channel have been developed. However, so far only a few investigations have been performed on modern smartphones and mobile devices in general. In this work, we describe Evict+Reload, the first access-based cross-core cache attack on modern ARM Cortex-A architectures as used in most of today’s mobile devices. Our attack approach overcomes several limitations of existing cache attacks on ARM-based devices, for instance, the requirement of a rooted device or specific permissions. Thereby, we broaden the scope of cache attacks in two dimensions. First, we show that all existing attacks on the x86 architecture can also be applied to mobile devices. Second, despite the general belief these attacks can also be launched on non-rooted devices and, thus, on millions of off-the-shelf devices. Similarly to the well-known Flush+Reload attack for the x86 architecture, Evict+Reload allows to launch generic cache attacks on mobile devices. Based on cache template attacks we identify information leaking through the last-level cache that can be exploited, for instance, to infer tap and swipe events, inter-keystroke timings as well as the length of words entered on the touchscreen, and even cryptographic primitives implemented in Java. Furthermore, we demonstrate the applicability of Prime+Probe attacks on ARM Cortex-A CPUs. The performed example attacks demonstrate the immense potential of our proposed attack techniques.

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