A Benchmark Suite for Evaluating Caches' Vulnerability to Timing Attacks

Session: Speculation and security--Life after meltdown.

Authors: Shuwen Deng (Yale University); Wenjie Xiong (Yale University); Jakub Szefer (Yale University)

Based on improvements to an existing three-step model for cache timing-based attacks, this work presents 88 Strong types of theoretical timing-based vulnerabilities in processor caches. It also presents and implements a new benchmark suite that can be used to test if processor cache is vulnerable to one of the attacks. In total, there are 1094 automatically-generated test programs which cover the 88 Strong theoretical vulnerabilities. The benchmark suite generates the Cache Timing Vulnerability Score (CTVS) which can be used to evaluate how vulnerable a specific cache implementation is to different attacks. A smaller CTVS means the design is more secure. Evaluation is conducted on commodity Intel and AMD processors and shows how the differences in processor implementations can result in different types of attacks that they are vulnerable to. Further, the benchmarks and the CTVS can be used in simulation to help designers of new secure processors and caches evaluate their designs' susceptibility to cache timing-based attacks.