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As predicted, more branch prediction processor attacks are discovered

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As predicted, more branch prediction processor attacks are discovered

Postby MrFredPFL » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:18 pm

Story : https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/03/its-not-just-spectre-researchers-reveal-





Researchers from the College of William and Mary, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California Riverside, and Binghamton University have described a security attack that uses the speculative execution features of modern processors to leak sensitive information and undermine the security boundaries that operating systems and software erect to protect important data.

That probably sounds familiar.

The Spectre attacks, published earlier this year, take advantage of the speculative execution features of modern processors to leak sensitive information. The new attack, named BranchScope by the researchers, shares some similarity with variant 2 of the Spectre attack, as both BranchScope and Spectre 2 take advantage of the behavior of the processor's branch predictor.

With speculative execution, the processor runs ahead of where the program actually is, and it tries to execute instructions before it can be certain if those instructions will actually be run. For example, if a program tests whether two numbers are equal and does one thing if they are and another thing if they aren't, the processor will guess the outcome and speculatively execute the resulting action. If it later turns out that the processor guessed wrong, the speculative results are thrown away and, at least in an abstract sense, it's as if the bad guess never happened. The processor picks up from where it left off, performing the action that it should have taken instead.







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