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A cache timing attack on AES in virtualization environments

: Weiß, M.; Heinz, B.; Stumpf, F.


Keromytis, A.D.:
Financial cryptography and data security : 16th international conference, FC 2012, Kralendijk, Bonaire, Februray 27 - March 2, 2012. Revised selected papers
Heidelberg: Springer, 2012 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7397)
ISBN: 3-642-32945-4 (print)
ISBN: 978-3-642-32945-6 (print)
ISBN: 978-3-642-32946-3 (online)
International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security (FC) <16, 2012, Kralendijk, Bonaire>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer AISEC ()

We show in this paper that the isolation characteristic of system virtualization can be bypassed by the use of a cache timing attack. Using Bernstein's correlation in this attack, an adversary is able to extract sensitive keying material from an isolated trusted execution domain. We demonstrate this cache timing attack on an embedded ARM-based platform running an L4 microkernel as virtualization layer. An attacker who gained access to the untrusted domain can extract the key of an AES-based authentication protocol used for a financial transaction. We provide measurements for different public domain AES implementations. Our results indicate that cache timing attacks are highly relevant in virtualization-based security architectures, such as trusted execution environments.