Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are commonly integrated with computing devices to enhance the performance and capabilities of graphical workloads. In addition, they are increasingly being integrated in data centers and clouds such that they can be used to accelerate data intensive workloads. Under a number of scenarios the GPU can be shared between multiple applications at a fine granularity allowing a spy application to monitor side channels and attempt to infer the behavior of the victim. For example, OpenGL and WebGL send workloads to the GPU at the granularity of a frame, allowing an attacker to interleave the use of the GPU to measure the side-effects of the victim computation through performance counters or other resource tracking APIs. We demonstrate the vulnerability using two applications. First, we show that an OpenGL based spy can fingerprint websites accurately, track user activities within the website, and even infer the keystroke timings for a password text box with high accuracy. The second application demonstrates how a CUDA spy application can derive the internal parameters of a neural network model being used by another CUDA application, illustrating these threats on the cloud. To counter these attacks, the paper suggests mitigations based on limiting the rate of the calls, or limiting the granularity of the returned information.
The recent Spectre attacks exploit speculative execution, a pervasively used feature of modern microprocessors, to allow the exfiltration of sensitive data across protection boundaries. In this paper, we introduce a new Spectre-class attack that we call SpectreRSB. In particular, rather than exploiting the branch predictor unit, SpectreRSB exploits the return stack buffer (RSB), a common predictor structure in modern CPUs used to predict return addresses. We show that both local attacks (within the same process such as Spectre 1) and attacks on SGX are possible by constructing proof of concept attacks. We also analyze additional types of the attack on the kernel or across address spaces and show that under some practical and widely used conditions they are possible. Importantly, none of the known defenses including Retpoline and Intel’s microcode patches stop all SpectreRSB attacks. We believe that future system developers should be aware of this vulnerability and consider it in developing defenses against speculation attacks. In particular, on Core-i7 Skylake and newer processors (but not on Intel’s Xeon processor line), a patch called RSB refilling is used to address a vulnerability when the RSB underfills; this defense interferes with SpectreRSB’s ability to launch attacks that switch into the kernel. We recommend that this patch should be used on all machines to protect against SpectreRSB.
Submitted on 13 Jun 2018
Speculative execution which is used pervasively in modern CPUs can leave side effects in the processor caches and other structures even when the speculated instructions do not commit and their direct effect is not visible. The recent Meltdown and Spectre attacks have shown that this behavior can be exploited to expose privileged information to an unprivileged attacker. In particular, the attack forces the speculative execution of a code gadget that will carry out the illegal read, which eventually gets squashed, but which leaves a side-channel trail that can be used by the attacker to infer the value. Several attack variations are possible, allowing arbitrary exposure of the full kernel memory to an unprivileged attacker. In this paper, we introduce a new model (SafeSpec) for supporting speculation in a way that is immune to side-channel leakage necessary for attacks such as Meltdown and Spectre. In particular, SafeSpec stores side effects of speculation in a way that is not visible to the attacker while the instructions are speculative. The speculative state is then either committed to the main CPU structures if the branch commits, or squashed if it does not, making all direct side effects of speculative code invisible. The solution must also address the possibility of a covert channel from speculative instructions to committed instructions before these instructions are committed. We show that SafeSpec prevents all three variants of Spectre and Meltdown, as well as new variants that we introduce. We also develop a cycle accurate model of modified design of an x86-64 processor and show that the performance impact is negligible. We build prototypes of the hardware support in a hardware description language to show that the additional overhead is small. We believe that SafeSpec completely closes this class of attacks, and that it is practical to implement.