Throwhammer: Rowhammer over networks

Rowhammer attacks are really interesting. They uses some of the physical properties of how computer memory is designed to overcome the logical control of how it is used.  The bits of information are stored so close together in modern memory that if you ‘wiggle’ one bit fast enough, sometimes the ones next to it flip over and change their value. This is of course a really simplified explanation but it provides enough insight so you can understand the common thought that malware has to be installed on a computer to use this technique.  You have to flip the bits really fast, and network transfer speeds aren’t as fast as the speeds inside a computer.  Times change, and networks are getting faster and faster.

 

Andrei Tatar at VU Amsterdam and team asked the question, “Are networks now fast enough for Rowhammer attacks over the network?”.  The answer in the form of “Throwhammer” attacks is that, yes they are and the team also devised some defences to prevent this form of attack.  If you are running 10Gps networks or faster, particularly with RDMA this is a paper to read.  If you aren’t, then it is still really interesting stuff.

 

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