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Thinking Like a Cyber-Attacker to Protect User Data

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An illustration shows a circuit board with a lock on top of to denote security.

Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT.

Hackers can exploit a computer processor's on-chip interconnect to launch side-channel attacks, say researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center. The researchers formulated the attacks by reverse-engineering the on-chip interconnect to build an analytical model of traffic flow between the processor cores, then developed two mitigation strategies.

In one scenario, the system administrator applies the model to identify the most vulnerable cores and then schedules sensitive software to run on less susceptible cores. In the second scenario, the administrator reserves cores located around a vulnerable program and runs only trusted software on those cores. Neither strategy demands altering the physical hardware.

From MIT News
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